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…)

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.

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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…)

Restoring Indigenous Peoples’ Rights: A Pathway from Australia to Arizona

At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution to repudiate the Doctrine of Discovery on the business agenda for the General Assembly.  What is the Doctrine of Discovery?  Why have our partner organizations in Arizona called for its repudiation?  How are we as Unitarian Universalist people of faith called to respond?  For the next several weeks, Cooking Together bloggers will address these questions.  This post was written by the Dave Weiman, who has been working with others to educate UUs about this issue. – Ed.

At 7:30 pm on December 3, 2009, Joy Murphy Wandin, senior woman of the Wurundjeri People, was the first person to greet the 6,000 plus people who had come together for the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Melbourne, Australia, with this traditional ‘Welcome to the Land’:

On behalf of the spiritual ancestors and the traditional owners of Melbourne, I invite you to Melbourne in 2009, for the Parliament of the World’s Religions to share in the traditions, culture and spirit of Australia. (more…)

Let Them Eat Tacos

In this post, reprinted from a January 26, 2012 entry in her own blog, Rev. Kathleen McTigue shares what happened when she and others worked together to hold the mayor of East Haven, Connecticut, accountable for his lack of response to federal indictments brought against police officers in the city, charging them with racial harassment of members of the Hispanic community.- Ed

It’s been a busy week in East Haven, Connecticut.

On Tuesday, the FBI arrested four East Haven police officers on charges of false arrest, excessive force, conspiracy and obstruction of justice. The charges were related to many years’ worth of abuse that Hispanic members of the community have suffered, including racial profiling,  harassment and beatings. In its indictment the Justice Department accused the East Haven police of “biased policing, unconstitutional searches and seizures, and the excessive use of force”. The New York Times called it “a  harrowing picture of arbitrary justice for Hispanic residents.”

One would hope that this kind of news would receive widespread attention and outrage, but in today’s world that seems to be the luck of the draw: sometimes people pay attention and sometimes they don’t. This time, thanks to the remarks of East Haven’s mayor, Joseph Maturo, the wider world is all over the story.

On Wednesday, Maturo was interviewed about the arrest of his police officers by a reporter for WPIX (Channel 11), who asked what he intended to do for the Latino community in light of the charges. Maturo replied, “I might have tacos when I go home. I’m not sure yet”. During the nearly five-minute clip — which immediately went viral — Maturo became more combative but never truly engaged the question. He returned repeatedly to the taco statement.

So today, I helped deliver around 500 tacos to the mayor’s office in protest of both his insensitivity and the larger issue of racism in our area. This brilliant idea was hatched by Reform Immigration for America, which invited anyone outraged by the mayor’s remarks to text them and order a taco to be sent to the mayor. It was enacted by Junta for Progressive Action, the lead organization serving the Spanish-speaking community in the greater New Haven area.

We were a small group, led by Junta’s Acting Director, Latrina Kelly. The restaurant that had agreed to make the tacos was in over its head: the protest orders kept flooding in until within just 24 hours, they’d received over 2,700 texts. The media attention had also made the restaurant owners and workers nervous: they requested anonymity, and accompaniment for delivering the tacos. So, off we went, about a dozen of us carrying trays and trays of tacos. We walked in through the big glass doors of town hall and were met by literally dozens of reporters and television cameras, everyone jockeying for position. (more…)

Witnessing for Justice and Compassion in Michigan

Within the last year, the Michigan Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Network (MUUSJN) has partnered with the Alliance for Immigrants Rights and Reform Michigan to educate Unitarian Universalists about immigration reform. On December 28, 2011, members of the alliance had an opportunity to take action that got positive results!  MUUSJN and local Unitarian Universalists from All Souls Community Church of West Michigan  attended a rally in Grand Rapids to stand up for three small children and their immigrant mother, Victoria Lorenzo-Calmo.  In this post,  Randy Block, Director of MUUSJN, tells the story.- Ed.

Victoria Lorenzo-Calmo fled to America in 2001 after being brutally abused by her ex-husband. After coming to the United States, Victoria met and married a man from Guatemala who appreciates and loves her. Until recently, they lived in Grand Rapids, MI with their three children, who are American citizens.  Earlier this year, her husband was deported to Guatemala. Until recently, she awaited her own deportation hearing. Every time the phone rang, Victoria feared it might be the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) calling to tell her that her immigration date had arrived. (more…)

Pacific Central District Youth Prepare for Justice GA

In this post, Dylan Colbert, a youth who belongs to the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, Walnut Creek, CA, reports on Pacific Central DYGT’s (District Youth Get-Togethers) focused on immigration justice issues. With the support of Mt. Diablo youth advisor Nancy Jasa, the youth are organizing educational events to help them learn more about the issues, and working on fund raisers to enable a large contingent of youth to attend Justice GA in Phoenix. – Ed.

The upcoming General Assembly in Arizona, focused on the inhumane treatment of America’s immigrants, has captured the attention of the youth in the Pacific Central District in California. In an effort to fully understand the immigration issues present today, youth in this district have organized a series of “DYGTs” -District Youth Get Togethers- so that they may understand the issues, brainstorm solutions, and raise money so that they may attend GA. As a youth in this district, I have been pleasantly surprised at the dedication shown by the other youth. Many of them have sacrificed weekends and many hours to researching immigration issues and leading events. So far, the youth have created and discussed a timeline of major events pertaining to American immigration policies and discussed terms relevant to immigration and how they apply to current situations. In future DYGTs, we hope to fully understand the different laws currently in place and continue fundraising so that we may send more youth to GA.

The DYGTs are an outgrowth of the excitement generated by a highly successful Immigration Conference at Mt. Diablo.  The Mt. Diablo congregation has financially supported youth attendance at General Assembly in Phoenix, including donating the proceeds of their craft fair to help with expenses. How has your congregation or your district included youth in your immigration justice work?  What plans have you made for fundraisers to support youth attendance at Justice GA?  Send us your stories! – Ed.


Dylan Colbert, a high school junior who is part of the Mt. Diablo Unitarian Universalist Church, is one of the organizers of the DYGTs in Pacific Central District and plans to attend General Assembly in Phoenix.