There is much buzz in Unitarian Universalist circles about Justice GA 2012 in Phoenix. Here’s what Asha Arora, this year’s GA Youth Caucus junior dean, known as a HUUPER (Hardcore UU Person, Energized and Ready), has to say.
When I was younger I disliked Sunday school. I had to wake up early and I enjoyed my sleep. That hasn’t changed but something else has- the number of amazing people I know all thanks to COA and YRUU. Everyone in YRUU has helped me feel happy and respected. So when I got the chance to be a delegate and represent the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Phoenix at General Assembly 2011 I was thrilled. I was elated to be in an environment created by some incredible UUs. I was so inspired by this experience that I applied to be the co-dean of General Assembly’s next two youth caucuses. To my surprise, I was selected and I cannot wait for General Assembly 2012.
However, this GA isn’t typical. You’re coming because in my state of Arizona we are having a social justice crisis. Hate seems to always be present. I am grateful that you are coming with the intention of healing this with love. Unfortunately, this anger is spreading. So I ask you spend this time before GA preparing. I know that if we do so, once we gather for 2012 our impact will be even stronger.
We have work to do if we are to accept with integrity the invitation from immigration justice organizations in Phoenix. We need to prepare ourselves spiritually to be faithful witnesses and effective partners in the service of justice and love in Phoenix and in our local communities. We can start by setting an intention that our faith communities will be places of stretching, growing, learning, and faith development, places where voices and perspectives of all kinds are sought and valued, and where we work together to grow in wisdom, in spiritual and theological depth, in knowledge, and in partnership skills.
Cooking Together: Recipes for Immigration Justice Work, the GA 2012 resources project, offers a blog community for religious professionals, lay leaders, and people of all ages who are passionate about engagement with immigration justice work. Together, we will share, create and adapt faith development materials for congregations of all sizes and kinds, whether or not they will be sending delegates to Phoenix for GA 2012. We will put ideas into the simmer pot, try them out, make adaptations, and work together to cook up the best possible set of worship, theological reflection, religious education, and faithful witness materials for people of all ages.
Enter the kitchen and begin! Learn about a multigenerational event at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Boulder, Colorado which set an intention for growing, learning, and deepening faith in preparation for the work of justice making. Have you done something similar or would you like to? How might such an event work in your congregation? What adaptations would suit your circumstances? What do you have to share? Come, let’s cook together!
“If you have come here to help me, then you are wasting your time…But if you have come because your liberation is bound up with mine, then let us work together.” These words attributed to Lila Watson, a leader in an Australian indigenous group, academic and artist, sum up for me the key to our work this year in preparation for June.
Remembering that my liberation is bound up with those targets of injustice with whom I share the struggle for justice and with whom I would grow Beloved Community is a constant struggle.
For me the answers lie in spiritual practice that expands the heart; with educational programs that include both the facts of the majority community and the facts that grow from direct experience of our partners; with honest and respectful relationships with people within target communities; and with celebrations, including worship, that provide inspiration for the journey.
It will be great to share ideas with others about how to do this.
This is an awesome sharing idea!
On the cooking theme, our church (First Parish Cambridge) held a “Multicultural Potluck” last winter. It was co-sponsored by our Immigration Task Force and the Transformation Team. We invited the congregation to bring food that represented their cultural heritage or one that they adopted or love- and to bring a story to share about that food.
We also had a long “immigration timeline” taped to the wall with key legislative and other immigration milestones. We invited people to use a sticker or two- color coded by region (Europe, Asia, S America etc) to indicate when their families first immigrated. We had a world map also and stickers to show the countries. Music, dancing and a pinata also included!
This was wildly enjoyed by all and we plan to do it again.
Last Sunday during the Story for All Ages, I shared my mother’s immigration story with the congregation. She and her best friend escaped from poverty, hunger and war in Hungary as teenagers – and I am alive today because she was able to get citizenship. Things are not the same for immigrants today. Despite leaving their homes under similar circumstances, most cannot make their way through the legal maze that is the pathway to citizenship. I hope that hearing about the desperate situations people leave in order to come to the US will help UUs grow in compassion and support for immigrants. And I know I stretched on Sunday. Normally I might tell world wisdom tales – but the human rights violations have become so disturbing that I was moved to share what is a very personal story. May we all stretch and grow as we grapple with this enormous issue of our times.
What an inspiring story from Asha. Says a lot about the importance of real connections in our congregations, for everyone–children, youth, young adults, and the rest (my generation and beyond!). I also appreciate hearing how an opportunity to serve (represent one’s congregation at GA) is really a growth opportunity that can lead to all sorts of amazing things. And let’s not let the message of love be drowned out. Our actions in Phoenix in 2012 (and everywhere else, for that matter) need to be grounded in our belief that every person is a lovable being of infinite worth. Thank you for providing this terrific resource. Can’t wait to see what else gets cooked up!