UUA Bookstore Sales Support Immigration Justice Partners

Thinking of bringing a banned book to Phoenix? Planning on purchasing books for yourself or your congregation? The UUA Bookstore is committed to the social justice mission of Justice General Assembly. Check out this announcement!- Ed.

Make any purchase from the UUA Bookstore entering the code PhoenixGA at checkout, and we’ll donate 5% of your purchase to The Comités de Defensa del Barrio (CDBs) and Puente AZ. These organizations performing vital human services and migrant justice work in Arizona are approved by the General Assembly Planning Committee. If ordering by phone at (800) 215-9076, be sure to mention the code PhoenixGA before you complete your purchase!

If sales using this code exceed $100,000 we donate 10% of each additional sale – up to a total contribution of $15,000!

Bread and Roses Sunday

This post, written by Rev. Robert Francis Murphy of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Falmouth, Massachusetts, describes how one congregation looks to history to spotlight longstanding Unitarian Universalist advocacy for justice for immigrants. – Ed.

This year marks the 100th anniversary of two famous events in the story of immigrants in North America.

At the beginning of 1912, immigrant workers in Lawrence, Massachusetts, joined together for a successful strike at the city’s textile mills. In labor legends, this action is remembered as  “the bread and roses strike.”  Twenty-five different languages were spoken among the workers. Many of the leaders were immigrant women. Religious groups were divided in their responses to the Lawrence strike, but the Unitarian church in Lawrence joined with other religious organizations in providing early support. President William Taft, who was a Unitarian, expressed sympathy for the strikers and Mrs. Taft was involved in social services that assisted the workers’ families. (more…)

What Solidarity Looks Like: Listen before Acting

In this post, Laura Wagner, chair of the Social Action Committee at First Parish Church Unitarian Universalist in Northborough, MA, shares her story of working with members of the local immigrant community and other allies to make a difference.- Ed.

In August of 2011 a tragic accident occurred in Milford, MA.  An undocumented person from the Ecuadorean community, who was driving while intoxicated, struck and killed a young man.  Animosity between the Milford citizens, the majority of whom are white, and the estimated 2,500 people of the Ecuadorean community (recently migrated to the US, many of whom are undocumented) had already existed prior to the accident.  The accident became the catalyst which unleashed newly intensified anti-immigration action organized by local Milford citizens.

Within eight days following the accident, leaders from the Ecuadorean community emerged and a meeting took place in which 250 people participated after receiving only eight hours notice.  The Ecuadorians, who are mostly Catholic, were offered meeting space and support by the local Catholic Church, St. Mary’s of the Assumption.  Over the coming weeks several more meetings of the Ecuadorean community took place and eventually included allies from Unitarian Universalists, Quakers, AFSC/Providence, MIRA Coalition, Centro Presente, Lutheran Immigrant and Refugee Service, both Latino priests associated with St. Mary’s and an Anglo community members from Milford. (more…)

Congregational Cluster Works Together on Immigration Justice

This month, Cooking Together has explored partnership, both as spiritual practice and as effective strategy. This week’s post is written by Community Ministry intern Kierstin Homblette, who highlights the collaborative work of the congregations in the Boulder Denver Cluster. –Ed.

The seven Unitarian Universalist congregations of the Boulder Denver Cluster have been intentionally moving towards greater collaboration over the last several years. They have endeavored to work together, improve communication between the congregations, and create opportunities for coordination of their events. Although this increasing collaboration exists in many areas of congregational life, over the last year, one of the most exciting developments has been in the arena of immigration justice.

In November 2011 people from the seven congregations who were working on immigrant justice met and shared the goings-on in their congregation and in their immigration-focused groups. Several congregations already had established groups meeting regularly and working in partnership with community organizations, and representatives from these congregations were able to share how they got started, some of their recent successes, and some best practices that had been working for them. (more…)

Screen “Lost in Detention” for Your Congregation!

Newsflash!!!

The UUA has received permission from Frontline  for Unitarian Universalist Congregations to show “Lost in Detention,” provided no admission is charged. This permission means that individual congregations do not have to request public performance permission to screen this film.  The documentary examines current US immigration policy and the enforcement system, including stories of hidden abuse in detention centers. View or purchase the documentary at Frontline’s website, or check the public library.

Unitarian Universalists have an extra reason to watch this compelling documentary. The Frontline documentary’s correspondent is Maria Hinojosa, who will deliver this year’s Ware Lecture at General Assembly in Phoenix. From NPR:

For 25 years, Maria Hinojosa has helped tell America’s untold stories and brought to light unsung heroes in America and abroad. She is the anchor and managing editor of NPR’s Latino USA.

Throughout her career Hinojosa has helped define the conversation about our times and our society with one of the most authentic voices in broadcast. As a reporter for NPR, Hinojosa told groundbreaking stories about youth and violence and immigrant communities. During her eight years as a CNN correspondent Hinojosa took viewers into communities that had never been shown on television. Her investigative journalism presses the powerful for the truth while giving voice to lives and stories that illuminate the world we live in.

Gather a group to screen Lost in Detention at your congregation and let us know about your event. Plan to hear Maria Hinojosa’s June 23 lecture either in person at Phoenix or via uua.org! – Ed.

 

The Spiritual Practice of Being in Partnership

As we prepare for Justice GA in Phoenix, Unitarian Universalists need to attend to how we engage as partners with those whose lives are most impacted by the social and legal effects of U.S. policy, law, and attitudes regarding migrants. This week, Janice Marie Johnson, UUA Multicultural Growth Director, offers her reflection on partnership.-Ed.

The Latin American Theology of Accompaniment offers an important glimpse into the spiritual practice of being in partnership. I first heard this term just a couple of days ago when I participated in worship led by Rev. Jackie Clements at Finding Our Way Home 2012, the annual gathering for religious professionals of color.

We learned that the idea of accompaniment was put forth by Roberto S. Goizueta in the book Caminemos con Jesus: Toward a Hispanic/Latino Theology of Accompaniment (Maryknoll, NY: Orbis Press, 1995). We considered how the verb ‘acompañar’ in Spanish is different in complexity, texture and weight from the verb ‘to accompany’ in English which can be used to refer to going to the grocery store with someone. At our retreat someone said, “’it’s like being joined at the hip.” (more…)

When God Tried to Cross the Border

In this post, intern minister Marcus Liefert shares the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley‘s “recipe” for including children in the congregation’s focus on immigration justice. Which stories, music, games, and activities have helped your congregation include people of all ages in immigration justice work and preparation for General Assembly? Send us your recipes! – Ed.

Immigration has been a major topic at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Berkeley this year.

Along the way, we’ve made up stories to explore immigration through the lens of our monthly worship themes. Near the beginning of our church year, Family Minister Laura Bogle and I told a story about Hospitality.  As the story ended, our Youth and Children’s Choir sang The Welcome Table. As they rehearsed it, they had learned about the history of the song and the history of some of the struggles for justice in our country. We are pleased to share the video recording.

(more…)

Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Ears

This month we publish a series of reflections and stories about partnership with those whose communities are most deeply impacted by immigration injustice.  Today’s post by Jesse Jaeger reflects on his experiences and the work of UU Mass Action in building partnerships. – Ed.

As Unitarian Universalist faith-based activists we need to come to our work with open hearts, open minds and, most importantly, open ears. This is particularly true when we are working with communities that have been marginalized by the wider society. Because privilege based on race, gender, education, economic class or immigration status whitewashes our perspective so we think that the experience of the privileged is the experience of everyone, the corner stone of progressive faith based activism needs to be the spiritual discipline of listening. By working to acknowledge our own assumptions and deeply listening to the truths of the communities with which we work, we are able to open our hearts and minds to the reality of their lives. When we enter this authentic space we are then able to be in true partnership with our community partners. (more…)

Rights of Indigenous Peoples- We Need More than Good Intentions!

Our partner organizations in Arizona have called for the repudiation of the Doctrine of Discovery and the implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  What do we need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call? This next post in our series was written by Kamila Jacob, who works in the UU United Nations Office. – Ed.

 

In 1452, a papal doctrine was created endorsing the conquest and exploitation of non-Christian lands and peoples.  One example of the implementation of this doctrine is an event glorified in U.S. history books:  Christopher Columbus sailed the seas in 1492 in search for new land. Columbus followed a doctrine that permitted him to conquer and colonize any “discovered”  lands not already under Christian dominion.  Upon his return home, the bull Inter Caetera of May 3, 1493 was issued by the Pope, affirming the right to conquer lands and impose Christianity.

Centuries later, in 1823, the Doctrine of Discovery was taken up in the U.S. Supreme Court case Johnson v. M’Intosh and the resulting opinion adopted the notion of “discovery” into U.S. Law. The language of this decision is adapted from documents such as the bull Inter Caetera.  Though some claim the court decision does not refer to religion, it states that already established native communities were properly and legally colonized because their religious and cultural practices do not follow that of those in power. Throughout our history, policies and discriminatory laws have been created from this doctrine. These policies and laws continue to exist due to ignorance of this history and lack of action to overturn the Doctrine of Discovery.

 

The Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP), adopted at the UN General Assembly on September 13th, 2007, is an aspirational document, which means that it is not legally binding. It acknowledges rights such as religion, culture, and property of indigenous peoples and holds governments aspirationally responsible for the human rights of those who are indigenous.  Canada signed the Declaration on November 12th, 2010, and the government pronounced that it would take steps to make this aspirational document consistent with Canada’s Constitution and laws. President Obama’s signature on UNDRIP on December 16th, 2010 was recognition of past dehumanization and discrimination of Native Americans in the United States.  However,  implementation of this declaration will require more than just good intentions. Fully implemented, this declaration will hold leaders accountable for defending the rights of indigenous peoples.

Native Americans have been discriminated against socially, institutionally, and legislatively for hundreds of years. One aspect of this longtime discrimination has been unfair compensation for land without due process. Now that our nation is a signatory for UNDRIP, it is time for our nation to follow its provisions.  (more…)

Help Youth Prepare for Justice GA

Are you a youth going to Phoenix?

Are you a youth advisor or sponsor for one or more youth at Justice GA?

Here are ten ways for youth to prepare for Justice General Assembly in Phoenix!

Some of the suggestions are for individual preparation, while others are suitable for groups. 

Share this list widely, and let us know which suggestions you follow – or what you would add.