New Doctrine of Discovery Discussion Guide

View and download the new Doctrine of Discovery discussion guide.

“The First Sight of the New World: Columbus Discovering America”

In January UUA Trustees voted to place a responsive resolution repudiating the Doctrine of Discovery on the General Assembly business agenda. The Doctrine of Discovery—the legal justification for colonizing the Americas and subordinating aboriginal people—is a narrative unfamiliar to many Americans. The Doctrine is so deeply embedded in American and Western culture that it hides in plain sight. (more…)

A Call from our Arizona Immigration Justice Partners

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 Unitarian Universalists need to know in order to respond faithfully to this call from our partners? This third post in our series was written by the Pacific Southwest District Executive Ken Brown. – Ed.

This past August a number of Arizona Unitarian Universalists met with community people we had been working with for a number of years on issues of migration and the border. The conversation was around what our partners in Arizona would like to see happen at our General Assembly.  Our partners gave us a very clear message that they would like us to pass a resolution calling on President Obama and his administration to implement the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous People.  When this Declaration was adopted by all but four nations in 2007, the United States was one of the four not adopting it.  Three years later, in December 2010, President Obama adopted the Declaration, making the United States the last nation to sign on to this document.

Watch this video made by Tupac Enrique about Columbus from TONATIERRA, a Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples supporting local-global holistic indigenous community development initiatives in accord with the principle of Community Ecology and Self Determination.

As President Obama declared when he signed the Declaration, “What matters more than the words – what matters far more than any resolution or declaration – are actions to match those words.”  (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.

“When a Stranger Sojourns with You in Your Land…”

This is one in a series of posts exploring the wisdom Jewish and Christian scripture and tradition offer as we strive to faithfully respond to immigration issues.  This post was written by Shawna Foster, student minister at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Topeka, Kansas. It first appeared in the congregation’s newsletter- Ed.

I recently started to volunteer at VIDA Ministries on Monday nights. VIDA is a outreach ministry sponsored by 12 Presbyterian congregations in the Topeka, Kansas that provides free volunteer-led programs and activities for Spanish-speaking immigrants, including an ESL class along with homework tutoring and nursery for participants’ children. I  built their new website  and included a biblical quote at the bottom. It’s Leviticus 19:33, and clearly puts forth a call to care for the immigrants in our midst.

When a stranger sojourns with you in your land, you shall not do him wrong. You shall treat the stranger who sojourns with you as the native among you, and you shall love him as yourself, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.

The director of VIDA was totally surprised to learn that this instruction is in the Bible. I was surprised that he was surprised – wasn’t the call to care for the stranger who sojourns in your land the whole reason VIDA was a ministry of these churches? (more…)

Introducing … “The Journey Toward Phoenix” on blogtalkradio

I am pleased to be a guest speaker for this exciting new project organized by Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA.  Here’s a chance to do some “cooking together” on immigration justice issues using talk radio as a medium- ed.

What if we could have a live national conversation among Unitarian Universalists about our Justice General Assembly this June? What if we could learn in real-time about what other congregations across the country were doing to address “Immigration as a Moral Issue”? What if there was an audio forum where UUs could be in dialogue with leaders in our movement about how to prepare for this unique gathering in our 50+ years of history?

It’s all happening, starting this Saturday, January 7, 4:00pm-5:00pm EST. Welcome to “The Journey Toward Phoenix”, an internet-based talk-radio program originating from the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia. Each week, the program will provide a platform to showcase what local congregations are doing regarding the immigration issue in their communities, as well as providing information about resources available from the UUA as we look toward our Justice General Assembly in Phoenix, June 20-24. Leaders in our association will share experiences, plans, and details as they develop, and listeners will be able to call-in live to ask questions of our guests.

Among the topics we expect to cover over the next six months are youth involvement in Justice GA, the DREAM Act, Secure Communities, the emerging detention industrial complex, UU curricula and resources regarding immigration, participating in Justice GA on a budget, our public witness in Phoenix, and working with community partners.

This week’s topic is “Immigration as a Moral Issue.” The program will feature Marilyn Baker and Sarah Bazzi, co-conveners of the Immigration Working Group at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, Virginia, in the first half-hour. In the second half-hour, we welcome Gail Forsyth-Vail, Adult Programs Director at the Unitarian Universalist Association (and editor of this blog!). Listen in to the conversation this and every Saturday from 4 -5 PM Eastern. There’s a phone number on blogtalkradio page so you can pose a question of our guests or contribute a comment.

Looking forward to greeting you on the radio as “The Journey Toward Phoenix” becomes reality!


Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith is a Team Minister at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Arlington, VA. Throughout 2010-2011, much of his attention is going toward the congregational/denominational focus on justice for immigrants and their families.

We Are Not Guests

A Reflection by Rev. Alicia Roxanne Forde

 

Am I a guest here. Here in this House. Are you?

Are we guests here. Here in this House. And, whose House do we inhabit?

In the small world of our lives

the borders between us: easements, fences, gates, hedges – serve to delineate,

to separate us. To remind us of where my property begins and ends.

Where your property begins and ends.


If you cross over: you are a trespasser or a guest in my house.

(more…)

Music and Hospitality

At the 2001 General Assembly in Cleveland, OH, delegates marched to the baseball stadium to protest the use of the name “Indians” as the team mascot. This effort was particularly cathartic for me. I was a relatively new UU and a long time fan of another baseball team with an equally racially-charged mascot, the Atlanta Braves. I honestly had never been bothered by such team names, and the march and rally challenged me to rethink the insensitivity and privilege of the dominant culture, of which I am a part.

As the delegates filed out of the hall and into a pouring rain, someone started singing “One More Step”, a hymn written by Canadian UU composer, Joyce Poley. No one had copies of Singing the Living Tradition in hand, and it appeared to be an impromptu decision to sing together as we marched in peaceful protest. I was moved to tears as I began a journey of bringing music to the cause of social witness. Although we were guests in that city, our music brought a calming, yet galvanizing, presence to the protest. (more…)

Flexibility, Spiritual Energy, and Wearing Lots of Hats

I love the Youth Caucus at General Assembly because of our community’s open-minded flexibility and fantastically positive energy. This is not to say that these qualities are exclusive to the Youth Caucus, but, as a youth chaplain to the Youth Caucus last year at GA, I had the privilege of observing my peers’ growth throughout the week, and I can assure you that their growth was astounding. Sure, we may be a bit rowdy at times, but our age also gives us a unique readiness to consider alternative opinions and perspectives.

A good example of this comes from an experience at last year’s GA. In addition to being a chaplain, I had the honor of being a member of the Right Relationship Team. Early in the week, another member of the Right Relationship Team pulled me aside and informed me of an issue with one of the games that was played at the Youth Caucus mixer the previous night. The game was called Ninja; to play, a group of people stand in a circle and take turns making swift movements to tap the hand of the person next to them. The last player to remain untapped is the winner. The game is a ton of fun, and very popular, but its name is also a serious cultural misappropriation.
(more…)