Our mission at First Unitarian Church is to Awaken Love and Justice in Our Lives and The World. For over 200 years, we have been devoted to creating a more just world, through early leadership to abolish slavery in the 1800s, witnessing for peace in times of war, rising for LGBTQIA justice as people of faith, and working to abolish the prison industrial complex. We live out our mission to awaken justice in four ways: Interfaith Coalitions, Direct Service, and Internal Change Work
We join with other congregations in coalitions for justice in the city of Philadelphia, State of Pennsylvania and wider world. Through these relationships, we can join with people of many faiths to create a more powerful force for political change, win campaigns for more fair wages and school funding, work to end mass incarceration and the oppression of undocumented immigrants, fight for LGBTQIA rights and climate justice, and more. We are proud to be members of POWER, which organizes around racial and economic justice issues, and the New Sanctuary Movement, which organizes around immigration justice issues. We also participate in Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light’s work around the environment, and UU PLAN’s state-wide network of Unitarian Universalists organizing for a variety of justice issues in Pennsylvania. Through these relationships, we engage in public witness, direct action, lobbying, and awareness raising campaigns throughout the city and state.
Throughout the year, we take part in a variety of service projects and events to help ease suffering in our neighborhoods and build relationships with communities most directly affected by injustice in our city. In recent years, we founded a library and tutoring program at the Andrew Jackson Elementary School in South Philly, we organize meals for the Winter Homeless Shelter at our neighbor congregation, Trinity Memorial, we have organized book donations to those facing incarceration for Books Through Bars and we have worked with the Bethesda Project to support those facing housing insecurity, among other projects.
Internal Change Work
Every congregation in this day and age has inherited ways of being that reinforces the racism, sexism, classism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, xenophobia, and more that exist in our society at large. Part of our commitment to awakening justice is about looking within - at the ways we put up barriers to full participation and leadership of those who are historically marginalized - people with disabilities, trans* and gender-non-conforming people, woman, people of color, and more. To do this, we engage in ongoing training and education of our leaders and members, regular re-tuning of our congregational systems of welcoming and leadership development, as well as working on concrete projects that will increase physical accessibility in our building like our Van Pelt street accessibility project.