This Blog is Now an Archive

Cooking Together: Recipes for Immigration Justice Work, allowed Unitarian Universalist individuals, congregations, and groups to access and share resources for examining a faithful response to immigration justice issues as we moved toward Justice General Assembly in June 2012 in Phoenix. It also helped UUA staff identify what resources did not exist already in congregations and groups, and work to prepare such resources. After careful reflection this past summer, it has been decided that the purpose of this blog has been met, and that it is time to for this particular project to end.

Those at General Assembly, and those following from home, left with a clear charge to continue immigration justice learning, partnership-building, and advocacy work in their own contexts. There were and are resources that are part of Cooking Together that can be helpful. In light of that, the blog is archived and remains accessible. Please feel free to browse using the links at the right. We have also transferred certain blog posts and resources to the immigration pages, the new Doctrine of Discovery pages, and the Worship Web.  Thanks to all for your open-hearted participation in this project- and blessings on your work in the year ahead! – Ed.

Taking Justice General Assembly Home

On Sunday afternoon at Justice General Assembly, UUA vice-presidents Kay Montgomery and Rev. Harlan Limpert reported on resources you might use to help you bring your experiences and learnings from Justice GA back to your congregations. Included was information about witness and action initiatives, curricula for all ages, Beacon press books, discussion guides, and other resources to support your congregation or group as you faithfully consider your response to the related calls for immigration justice, racial justice, justice for indigenous people, and economic justice.

Watch video of the report, view the slide presentation, and read the transcript. Let us know about the conversations you are having in your congregation or group, actions you are taking, and resources that have been helpful. We are looking forward to sharing wisdom and experiences one with another as we move forward from Justice GA as Unitarian Universalist people of faith. -Ed.

Call to Arms

Our experiences at Justice General Assembly and in our own communities have taught us that the work of justice making is long haul work, work for our arms, our feet, our voices, and our hearts.  Rev. Marta I. Valentín offered us this prayer as we awaited the Supreme Court decision, and it is just as pertinent now as it was before General Assembly -Ed.


Spirit of Truth and Justice

Hear us as we ask that you

hold the collective anxiety

that permeates this fear-filled situation.


This is a call to arms.


Arms that will hold broken hearts,

and elated hearts

arms that wrap themselves around

a body, beaten and disfigured

in truth and metaphorically…


Arms that provide a strength

neither giver nor receiver

knew they possessed…


Arms that hold up

the sky of misplaced authority

and righteousness

from crashing down upon heads

struggling to be held high

as each shred of dignity is yanked

from their tired, over-used,

under-appreciated bodies.


This is a call for committed arms

to continue leading heads

and hearts

to know the facts

but feel the truth,

a call to remember

that the freedom we’ve been given

to swing our arms as wide and open

to the sun as we like

has come on the backs of humans

others wish were invisible.


This is a call to arm

ourselves with the facts

but feel the truth

borne out of the power of our

Unitarian Universalist love

and the balance of justice.


Marta I. Valentín

March 29, 2012


Rev. Marta I. Valentín is the minister at First Church Unitarian in Littleton, Massachusetts

Music to Inspire Immigration Justice Work

Over the summer, Cooking Together will provide a space for UU congregations and groups to share their recipes for bringing the Justice General Assembly home. This week’s post shares a recipe from First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island, written by Cathy Seggel, Director of Religious Education. She shares reflections from a worship service with Emma’s Revolution that invited congregants to engage in immigration justice work- Ed.

In the fall of 2011, I received a grant from the UUA Young Adult & Campus Ministry office to bring the musicians of Emma’s Revolution, to Providence to engage and inspire college-aged young adults. The grant helped pay for a workshop at Brown University, a concert and a worship service at First Unitarian Church of Providence, RI. Students from all RI and nearby colleges were invited to the concert at no cost, and many did. The proceeds from the concert weekend benefited the congregation’s Standing On The Side of Love group, who co-sponsored and helped with ticket sales to the broader community.

The Sunday worship service reflections in music and word that Rev. James Ford and I created with Pat Humphries and Sandy O., the Emma’s Revolution musicians, was an emotionally moving invitation to engage in immigration justice work. That weekend was a highlight of my career. As our recipe on the immigration justice menu, I share excerpts from the reflections that were interspersed with the music that morning.


Hear my voice! Isn’t that what we all yearn for? To be understood. To belong. To be welcomed. I wonder if any of you has ever moved? To a new town, a different home, a new school or job? When that happened, how did you feel? … I remember moving to RI, many years ago. Everyone seemed to know each other, but me. I didn’t know the culture, you know what I mean. I used different words for things, like milk shakes not cabinets, submarine sandwiches, not grinders. It wasn’t all about food, though. I was lonely and confused. I was lost. My family was far away.

There were a few people who helped, who listened, who shared the new secrets of the area. I will always remember their kindness. But, my move was easy, only from Washington, DC. I spoke the same language as Rhode Islanders, almost. I came to an apartment with enough money for food and found a job, as a nurse, easily.

What if my move was from a distant land, on a quest for safety, for food, for freedom? Who would have listened? Helped me provide opportunities for my children? Been a friend and ally? And, more importantly, who am I listening to now? Am I aware of the women and men and children who have come to Providence and other places who need me to partner with them to gain access to the American dream? This is not a new idea. However, it is happening, right now, right here. Will I hear and answer the call?


When I think of the immigrant experience, I admire how immigrants, with or without documents, share a certain courage, sometimes born of desperation, perhaps with chaos at the edges, but driven mainly by a genuine willingness to step out into the unknown, to walk away from the status quo, and to try for something better.

At its best, this creative urge lies at the heart of our country. From our nation’s inception we have been populated by people willing to take a chance for a hope, for a dream. And taken together, woven together, something pretty amazing has birthed. No doubt.

These days it’s all in danger. These are harsh times. We’ve been misdirected from examining the causes of that which which has poisoned us, and poisoned our children’s futures. We have not attended to the heart of the matter- naked greed, the co-option of our republic by those whose interests are simply the accumulation of personal wealth no matter the cost to others. Instead, we have been subjected to a relentless stirring up of fear and hatred for the poor and for the immigrant.

Whatever may come of our national conversation around immigration, I hope we, here, as people woven out of that particular subset of human beings, those who stepped away from what was to what might be, will recall how closely we are all connected.

Let us not be misdirected. Let us recall who we really are.

Of the people killed in the attack on 9/11 there were, of course, undocumented people. For many reasons, the people who employed them are not willing, even at this distance, to step forward and acknowledge them. A handful of those at the World Trade center towers without documents have been identified. But, people who have tried to delve deeply into the matter estimate there were more than a hundred, all names not listed, not counted.

There is something wrong here. Deeply wrong.

Our call ultimately in all that is going on is to remember, that is re-member, to bring all the disparate parts back to a whole.

Let us recall who we really are, a people woven out of courage, creating a nation of possibility. Let us remember.

And remembering, let us act.


We are linked to one another; sisters and brothers, mothers and fathers and friends. Each one counts, is important and should be treasured. Isn’t that what the Unitarian Universalist’s first principle states? We teach about the inherent worth and dignity of all. I believe that there is enough hope and courage possible in the world to move closer to realizing that value. That the dream of justice might grow and thrive, on the ground. I don’t know about you, but I become overwhelmed by the connected oppressions and injustices on our planet. I certainly feel the need to refill my well of hope, to dance and to sing and feel connected to more than my own worry and fear.

The music that we have been experiencing today helps heal my worried heart and anchors my resolve, to believe, to connect with others and take part in rebuilding the dream. Our next lyrics say it best:

“Let us sing for today, Let us learn better ways. Showing love, giving hope. We begin…”


Share your recipes and stories with other Unitarian Universalists. Tell us how you are inspiring and supporting one another in immigration justice work. –Ed.

Cathy Seggel is Director of Religious Education at First Unitarian Church of Providence, Rhode Island.

Prayer for Travelers/ Oración Para Los Viajeros

This beautiful prayer by Rev. Angela Herrera, the assistant minister at First Unitarian in Albuquerque, NM, was first published in her new Skinner House meditation manual Reaching for the Sun: Meditations. – Ed.

This is a prayer for all the travelers.

For the ones who start out in beauty,

who fall from grace,

who step gingerly,

looking for the way back.

And for those who are born into the margins,

who travel from one liminal space to another,

crossing boundaries in search of center. (more…)

Going to Phoenix? Some Helpful Information

Rob Molla, the UUA Director of Human Resources, contributed this post- Ed.

With our attention turned toward the upcoming Justice General Assembly and the strong Phoenix sun, the UUA’s Office of Human Resources invited Howard L. Kramer, MD, PhD to meet with UUA staff recently to share some wisdom on staying safe in the heat, recognizing symptoms of sun- and heat-related illness, and basic first aid.

Dr. Kramer suggested a number of good ideas—here are the top ten—that we can bring with us to Phoenix:

  1. To prevent sunburn, use a sunscreen lotion with an SPF of at least 15. An SPF of 50 is better. Reapply the sunscreen frequently to slow skin damage from the sun.
  2. Wear a hat and long sleeves when you’re outdoors for protection from the sun.
  3. To cool your body more efficiently, choose light colored, loose-fitting clothing made of natural fabrics, which will encourage the movement of air around your skin and will encourage the evaporation of sweat.
  4. Drink 3-4 cups of liquid per hour when you’re active in moderate heat to prevent dehydration. Dr. Kramer suggests drinking both water and a sports drink such as Gatorade. Many sports drinks contains electrolytes, which will help replace the salt your body loses through perspiration.
  5. Heat rash results from blocked sweat glands. The best treatment is to keep your skin cool and dry, and to apply calamine lotion to relieve the itching.
  6. Heat stroke is a potentially deadly reaction to a dangerous rise in the body’s core temperature. Symptoms include a high body temperature, confusion, loss of coordination, and hot, dry skin. Seek immediate medical treatment right away by calling 911 and by moving the person to a cool, shaded or air conditioned location.
  7. Listen to what your body tells you: It’s a natural reaction to feel weaker and more tired in the heat. It’s your body’s way of saying slow down, cool off.
  8. Don’t be afraid to move into air conditioned spaces frequently. It’s a good way to lower your body temperature quickly to a more normal range, especially after being outside or after engaging in physical activities.
  9. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and sweet sodas in a hot climate. These can impair your body’s naturally efficient cooling systems.
  10. Keep an eye on your friends and colleagues! We’re all healthier when we take care of each other.

And…Sandy Weir of the Arizona Immigration ministry reminded us this week that although there is much to be critical of in the government of Arizona, the state is home to many creative and wonderful people, and has extraordinary natural beauty. You can find much information about Arizona human and natural history, geography, arts and culture, and innovation at the Arizona Centennial Website. Check it out! –Ed.

Rob Molla is the UUA’s Director of Human Resources.

Standing with Families on the Side of Love

This week’s post, written by Susan Lawrence of the UUA Resource Development Office, lifts up the four-page immigration justice resource for families found in the summer issue of UU World.­-Ed.

“What’s an appropriate, effective way to engage children in immigration justice?”

For a religious professional, an RE volunteer, or any adult involved with raising a child, that question comes up right alongside our own call to immigration justice—because any call to justice we hear is a call we want our children to hear, too, as they grow in faith. We want to spark a child’s empathy. We want to create a sense of urgency, but without creating a heightened sense of fear. Most important, we want to invite children to see themselves as agents of change—people who can help.

The Family pages insert in the new UU World magazine (Summer 2012) offers a carefully crafted approach, with a set of real-life stories, exploration activities, and justice actions for all ages you can use to lift up immigration issues with children and multi-age groups. Because this pull-out section comes with UU World magazine directly to your home—the true cradle of faith development!—parents, caregivers, and religious educators are probably accustomed to using it to create family conversations, games, and reflection. But you can also share components of the Family pages in other contexts, and this issue’s insert, titled “Standing with Families on the Side of Love,”  makes an especially timely pairing with Justice GA. (more…)

How Shall We Approach Justice General Assembly?

A the request of a number of my colleagues, this week’s blog post is adapted from reflections I offered at the UUA staff chapel several weeks ago. -Ed.

Two summers ago, on July 29 2010, I was restless, pacing, watching Facebook for word from Phoenix as one by one Unitarian Universalist leaders were arrested in an act of civil disobedience. The discussion prior to this had been riveting; some people were saying that the call that had come from our partners to protest SB 1070 was another call to Selma. At the recent General Assembly the vote was to go to Phoenix in 2012 at the request of our partners and hold a justice GA. Immigration justice had jumped from something I was generally aware of to something on the front burner of my professional life. I was paying attention. (more…)

The Doctrine of Discovery: The True Story of the Colonization of the United States of America

“The Doctrine of Discovery: The True Story of the Colonization of the United States of America”,  new fourteen-minute video, suitable for adults, young adults, older children, and youth, invites us to follow clues to how the Doctrine of Discovery is embedded in the cultural and historical narrative of the United States. Discover why our immigration justice partners in Arizona have asked us to learn about this story and join them as allies in calling for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery.