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Loving Transformations: Call to Action from Justice GA

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Our Unitarian Universalist faith is grounded in the most powerful force of all – love. Love is the backbone of our principles. It is the light that shines brightly on our interactions with others as we strive to achieve understanding. Love is the source of our strength and commitment as we work for a just and compassionate world.

This past week, I attended the Unitarian Universalist Association’s annual General Assembly in Phoenix, Arizona. As some of you may already know, this “GA” was different from others that have occurred in the past. This year, we put our love into collective action and participated in “Justice GA”, to call attention to the criminal and inhumane treatment of immigrants in Arizona and across the country. We attended workshops and sessions that helped us to better understand the struggles faced by some of the most marginalized individuals in our nation. We engaged in conversations and service projects that allowed us to connect with our partners and members of the local community in spiritually transformative ways. And we brought love to a place where some had forgotten the inherent worth and dignity of every person – “Tent City”. In a place where hatred, fear, and abuse run rampant, we brought light, compassion, and hope. We literally stood on the side of love as we sang and cheered in solidarity with the members of our human family whose freedom and dignity were being denied through horrific and legally sanctioned means.

Although our vigil made the news, our work did not end that night, and it is far from over. Our work is love, and our love demands that we continuously seek ways to end injustice and affirm the right to a healthy, joyful, and free existence for all members of our human family. Our work is hard, and love is not always our first instinct when we face challenges or see what looks like a hopeless path ahead. But those are the moments when we must work stronger, when we must love stronger. Those are the moments when we join in collective action and live our faith. If there is one thing that I have learned from this year’s Justice GA, it is that love transforms. If we love, others will come to love with us. If we love, our work will be on the side of compassion and justice. If we love, we will prevail.

Experience Justice GA for Yourself!

As Vice President of your Board, I would like to extend an invitation to the entire congregation to share in the love that inspired this year’s Justice GA. Nearly all of the sessions, worships, and witness events were recorded for those who were unable to attend, and many have been posted on the UUA’s website. The selections are plentiful, so I offer the following suggestions to get you started:

  1. Opening Celebration 
  2. Ware Lecture by Maria Hinojosa: Stories from the Frontlines of the New America: Detention, Deportation, and the power of Democratic Resistance
  3. Beyond the Border: For-Profit Incarceration and Detention (Educational Session)
  4. Pre-Witness Worship
  5. Sunday Morning Worship
  6. Your Minister in Action! Our very own Reverend Nate helped with the Closing Celebration, where he reflected on what he learned at Tent City (section 47:09 – 52:59 in the video). He also helped lead a worship service entitled Weaving the Tapestry of Justice and gave a presentation on the effective use of social media.

 

These are just a small handful of the transformative experiences offered at this year’s Justice GA. I encourage you to look at all of the options available online to find even more amazing sessions and events. In addition, you have the opportunity to purchase audio and video of the various workshops offered this year. The full program of events can be downloaded here.

 

Continuing Our Immigration Justice Work

In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on SB1070, it is clear that our work to defend the rights of all immigrants is not yet over. Although many portions of the Arizona law have been struck down, key provisions that violate the inherent worth and dignity of every person still remain. Consider signing a petition initiated by the Standing on the Side of Love campaign to close Maricopa County’s “Tent City” forever. If you are able, please consider giving a donation to one of our community partners on the ground at Arizona, who are constantly working to defend the rights of those who face unjust treatment at the hands of this law. If you would like to learn more about the immigration struggles within our own state, visit the New Sanctuary Movement’s website to see what work they are doing and to find more local organizations that are defending immigrant rights.

 

Justice Takes Many Forms

As important as our immigration justice work continues to be, there are other ways in which we have been called to show the love that guides our faith. At this year’s GA, delegates voted on the next “Congregational Study Action Issue” that we as a denomination are asked to explore within our home communities and congregations. The issue selected for the years 2012 thru 2016 is Reproductive Justice: Expanding our Social Justice Calling. Learn more about this action issue and the ways in which we can begin to explore it within our congregation.

In an exciting addition to our justice agenda, our partners at this year’s GA requested that we make a commitment to actively explore the Doctrine of Discovery. In a responsive resolution passed by delegates at this year’s assembly, we as a denomination have agreed to explore this doctrine and its implications within our congregations. We have agreed to encourage our nation’s leaders to officially remove this doctrine from our international policy by implementing the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. I encourage you to explore the content of the Doctrine of Discovery, the UN declaration, and the responsive resolution, all of which can be found online. As we examine these materials on our own and within our congregation, I invite us all to reflect on the ways in which they impact our justice work today.

Continuing the Conversation

As you explore the links to the materials listed above, I wish to extend an invitation to all of us to engage in conversation. Share your thoughts with one another, ask questions, and seek deeper meaning. If at anytime you wish to ask me questions about Justice GA, I gratefully welcome the opportunity to speak with you after Sunday services or at another time that is more convenient. I also want to invite you to mark your calendars for next year’s General Assembly. Next year, GA will be held in Louisville, Kentucky from June 19, 2013 thru June 23, 2013. Even if you cannot physically attend next year’s assembly, keep those dates on your calendar to watch the online simulcasts!

The lessons and work of Justice GA 2012 are the lessons and work not only of Unitarian Universalists, but of all members of our human family. They are the lessons and work of people who strive to respect the inherent worth and dignity of every person. They are the lessons and work of a movement that is grounded in love – a love that grows stronger every time it is put into action. With love as our source of energy, we can continue to work for justice no matter what hurdles we will inevitably face. With love as our guiding light, we can transform our world.

 

Yours in faith and love,

Ranwa Hammamy

Vice President of the Board

 

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