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.

 

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…)

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…)

Immigration and Indigenous Theology

At the January meeting, the UUA Trustees approved a motion to include a report from their Right Relationship Monitoring Committee on the Doctrine of Discovery in their report to congregations, as well as 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 Rev. Colin Bossen, who was arrested on July 29, 2010 in an act of civil disobedience. He describes how he learned about the Doctrine of Discovery- Ed.

I did not go to jail expecting to meet a theologian. But jail was where I met Tupac Enrique Acosta. Tupac, like me, was arrested in front of one of the Maricopa County Sheriff’s offices for protesting against Arizona’s anti-immigrant law SB1070 on July 29, 2010. Unlike me, Tupac had an analysis of the bill’s place in history that put it firmly within the context of the ongoing repression of the indigenous peoples of North America.

Tupac, who would probably reject the label theologian, is the leading figure behind the Phoenix-based Nahuacalli, an organization that describes itself as “A Cultural Embassy of the Indigenous Peoples.” He is also closely linked with Puente, the grassroots organization behind many protests against SB1070 in Phoenix, and Puente’s leader Salvador Reza. Understanding his views on SB1070 illuminates that, for some, the struggle over immigration is about something larger. (more…)

Writing the Children’s Immigration Curriculum

In this post, Mandy Neff, author of the newly published children’s RE curriculum, With Justice and Compassion,  shares  some of the background story behind the curriculum.- Ed.

My mother escaped as a teen during the Hungarian Revolution.  I grew up hearing her stories of running from soldiers, a long wait eating thin soup in a refugee camp, and finally several demanding years of learning English with the family that adopted her here in the US before she was naturalized.   I knew her immigration was no small thing.  But despite the difficulties, she was welcomed into a new culture when she arrived.  She was one of the lucky ones – and I have benefited from that.

After several years of Buddhist studies, I have learned the power of the Metta, or lovingkindness, meditation for myself.  Through its repetition of the same words for yourself, then a loved one, in ever-widening circles until you reach someone you consider an enemy and have to send them lovingkindness, it is a profound tool.  As a Religious Educator, I am always searching for ways to teach compassion and respect to our children and youth.  This was an ideal tool to give them. (more…)

With Justice and Compassion: Immigration Sessions for Children’s Religious Education

With Justice and Compassion

In the month of February, we will provide materials to help Unitarian Universalists of all ages engage in theological reflection and prepare for the work of Justice GA in Phoenix and the work of our local congregations in support of immigration justice. In this post, we are pleased and proud to announce the publication of With Justice and Compassion: Immigration Sessions for Children’s Religious Education, by Mandy Neff.

The four-session curriculum includes plans for children in grades 1-3 and children in grades 4-6, as well as plans for a Family Night, where children share what they have learned and take part in a service project.  Grounded in our second Unitarian Universalist principle and in the Buddhist lovingkindness meditation, the curriculum invites children to explore their own family stories while learning about immigration in the United States. It lifts up justice and compassion as guiding values as we consider immigration justice issues in our own time.

Please let us know if you use this program, and tell us how it comes to life in your congregation!