18 October 2005

Dear QUUF,

I am the new chair for the Social Justice Committee (S.J.C.). The S.J.C. membership has declined to the point where it is evident to the leaders of the church, and those who remain involved, that it needs to be revived. In spite of this need for revival we are staying faithful to the key activities and annual events that have stable participation and reliable existing leadership. For details on which activities we expect to continue see my article in the November newsletter.

The challenge of reviving this committee is no small task, but it is one that is important if we take the description of it seriously. Here’s a excerpt of one description I received as a new member, “The committee strives to find ways and means to rectify social injustices; and support groups organized to deal with social problems.” When I was approached by Rev. Bruce Bode and President of the Board Kendra Golden to consider this leadership position I was initially hesitant to accept. At the September kick-off meeting (my first, which I attended out of curiosity) and in previous personal conversations with Julia Cochrane, former chair and my vice-chair, she made it clear that this is a significant task that has gotten the better of previous people in my position.

By coordinating a heart and soul searching inquiry into the questions, “What is Social Justice?” and “Why do we have a Social Justice Committee?” I am interested in finding out how you (and the rest of our congregation) relate to, think about, and act on the idea of Social Justice. I took on this task because I have an opportunity to take advantage of my unique combination of only limited UU and QUUF history, an abundance of experience with facilitating inquisitive learning, and a particular interest in developing an integrated approach to the diverse issues that cause injustice and suffering in the world.

If I were taking over a committee with a full slate of activities and a need for complex church-wide coordination then my lack of history would probably be an impediment to getting things done effectively. But, by remaining faithful to the established successful activities, I will be supportive of those who so generously lead them while putting my primary focus on this learning and re-visioning process for the committee.

The investigation will have three key components. First, I will reach out personally, through articles, personal interviews and being available at church events, to invite exploration of the basic questions above. Next, Kathy Walker and I are working together on an upcoming Social Justice unit for the RE program to create a more comprehensive congregation-wide investigation of current Social Justice involvement within and beyond the church. Finally, the committee will sponsor an open forum for the congregation to hear about and be heard regarding the results of the previous steps plus I will explain the final process for creating a vision for the S.J.C. and it’s role in our congregation.

My goal, personally, is to transform the UU claim to respect the dignity and worth of all life from an abstract rhetorical device into an honored and cherished practice in my life. I suspect that this congregation has an embarrassment of riches when it comes to those who are actively committed to Social Justice issues both personally and professionally, but only with your help will I discover those riches and succeed in revitalizing the S.J.C. Please contact me with your thoughts, questions, answers and concerns for Social Justice and the S.J.C. If you are willing to share your feedback with the entire world, then replying in this Blog is certainly a welcome method for sharing.
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