Message from Rev. Richard ‘Bud’ Murphy, UUJF President

Just Saying April 2022

 
 

Exploration of freedom in a free thought denomination.

There is a lot of debate about the mechanics of evolution, but, if evolution does describe what's going on, then isn't our challenge to do our best to understand and perhaps in some way influence the outcome of life organizing itself, the process in which we find ourselves immersed?

What are we learning about the way life organizes itself?

We know the human species has evolved highly sophisticated abilities to see clearly, smell sensitively, touch curiously, taste pensively! We have a dazzling spectrum of sensory inputs. How is it, we can be swimming in crystal clear water with a perfect temperature, floating effortlessly, watching the almost hypnotic undulation of light slicing down through crystal depths and we realize we are holding our breath and need to get to the surface! My point, our attention is vulnerable to direction and misdirection. Breathe comfortably. 

The magician invites you to not see what they do by directing our attention elsewhere. 

There is a challenge of reasoning over casuistry. The responsible search for truth and meaning involves distinguishing between probability and plausibility. The strategies for exploring alternatives and forming consensus are also on a spectrum of either/or vs. both/and. Polarities imply a tension between the poles. We adjust this dynamic balance based on the perception of threats, the exploration of the upside and downside consequences of each balance point on the spectrum.

Teilhard De Chardin in an essay from Activation of Energy entitled “The Moment of Choice” writing in the shadow of WWII writes,

“What then do we see?

At a number of points on the earth, sections of mankind are simultaneously isolating themselves and drawing themselves up in readiness, logically impelled by 'universalization' of their nationalism to set themselves up as the exclusive heirs of life's promises. Life, they proclaim from where they stand, can attain its term only by following exactly the road it took at the very beginning, Survival of the fittest: a pitiless struggle for domination between individual and individual, between group and group. Who is going to devour whom?... Such is the fundamental law of fuller being. In consequence, overriding every other principle of action and morality, we have the law of force, transposed unchanged in the human sphere. External force: war, therefore, does not represent a residual accident which will become less important as time goes on, but is the first agent of evolution and the very form in which it is expressed. And to match this, internal force: citizens welded together in the iron grip of a totalitarian regime. All along the road we find coercion, continually obliged to turn the screw tighter. And, as a climax, one single branch stifling all the others. The future awaits us at the term of a continuous series of selections, its crown is destined for the strongest individual in the strongest nation: it is in the smoke and blood of battles that the superman will appear.
It is against this barbaric ideal that we have spontaneously rebelled: and it is to escape slavery that we too have had to have recourse to force. It is to destroy the 'divine right' of war that we are fighting.... One thing, then, we must clearly appreciate: we shall succeed in counterbalancing the current they represent, and then reversing it, only by overcoming their religion of force by one that is equally wide in its embrace, equally coherent, and equally attractive.”

Read about the UU antidote next month to this view.

 

Legislative Update

The last Action Alert sent to subscribers at the close of the 2022 session called on the Governor to veto 7 bills that are inconsistent with values held by UU’s and members of our progressive community. It is not too late to contact the Governor as 6 of these bills are on his desk or soon will be.

Emotionally charged issues have dominated, as reflected in news coverage, with full frontal assaults on abortion access, “woke” culture and immigration, for instance.

And, as with all priorities, there’s the cost of other opportunities, according to advocates for business, workers, the disabled and the environment, to name a few:

  • The state’s insurance market continues to crumble.
  • An eviction crisis is brewing for the state’s working class.
  • Pollution continues to foul Florida waterways.
  • Tens of thousands of severely developmentally disabled Floridians continue to wait for services.

Readers of this column may be interested in this question I received from a subscriber to UUJF Action Alerts and my response.

Question - What influence do these emails have on Republican senators?

My response - If you look at the party line votes in favor of each of the bills targeted in Action Alerts, the answer is there is no immediate effect.

However, the reasons I think these actions are worth the effort are threefold.

  • They serve notice to our elected officials and their staffs that there is a constituency of progressive voices in Florida.
  • They serve to mobilize these voices. After each Alert has been sent, many are being forwarded to those not on the subscriber list resulting in an immediate increase in the number of people signing up to receive subsequent alerts
  • They serve to educate subscribers to the list on what bills are in play, their content and significance, and the paths these bills take to enactment.  This is evidenced by the questions I receive, such as yours, asking about the legislative process in Florida and how we might respond to influence the making of public policy.

Other than scheduling meetings with legislators virtually or in person, your phone calls and emails are the next most effective way of letting legislators know where their constituents stand. Continue to share these Alerts with others in your congregation and progressive organizations who share our vision for justice, compassion, and equity.

As always, your comments, suggestions and questions are welcome.

 

Redistricting

As this is arriving in your Inbox, the Governor has not acted. However, there are substantial concerns about the U.S. Congressional map that was sent to the Governor. Watch the court cases. The significant issue is timing.  With district's boundaries being contested, the path to the November election date (announcing, campaigning for funding and votes, primaries) is considered compromised in the districts with significant boundary issues.

Read more

 

News and Events from Congregations and UUJF

 
 

Speaking out Matters

 

Kindra Muntz, President, of the Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections and past President of UU Justice Florida, writes:

Thanks to all who worked so hard on the Special Election March 8 in Sarasota County.  The Sarasota Alliance for Fair Elections led the campaign to Save Single Member Districts in a Special Election that required a NO vote on the ballot alongside a YES vote for a popular measure to fund schools.  Single member districts for electing County Commissioners passed overwhelmingly in Sarasota County in 2018.  UUs in both the UU Congregation of Venice and the Unitarian Universalist Church of Sarasota worked to pass the measure in 2018, and again this year to save it.  For the current election, the Social Justice Committee of UUCS contributed $500.00 toward purchase of large signs to VOTE NO on the Commissioners’ deceptively worded charter amendment.  SAFE partnered with a bipartisan group called Citizens for District Power that participated actively in fundraising, writing guest columns in newspapers, outreach on social media, texting, and meeting with other civic groups.  Despite massive opposition from the County Commissioners, which included $100,000 from a Dark Money Tallahassee PAC called Sun Coast Alliance that funded mailers all over the county and TV ads to persuade voters to change to countywide voting, the campaign to Save Single Member Districts prevailed March 8 with over 57% of the vote.  This was truly a David vs. Goliath effort, and we were David.  It was the People vs. the PACs, and this time, the People won!

 

UU Congregation of Lake County’s Solar Celebration

The UU Congregation of Lake County (UUCLC) celebrated its recently installed and connected solar panel installation March 26, 2022, on a beautiful sunny day.

Janeane Reagan, interim president of the UUCLC board and Rev. Kathy Schmitz, guest minister, led the celebration. Mary Dipboye, founder and Advisory Board member of the Solar United Neighbors of Florida and First Unitarian Church of Orlando former president, spoke about the Solar United Neighbors solar co-op program as it related to the new solar array. 

Rev. Margalie Belizaire, First Unitarian Church of Orlando minister, and Cynthia Snavely, interim minister at TriCounty UU, as well as other members of their congregations were there to support their fellow UU’s.  Also in attendance were Doug Shields, Lake County Commissioner, Mike Holland, Eustis mayor, and Nan Cobb, Eustis City Commissioner, as were other environmental defenders in Lake County.

Following the remarks in the sanctuary, everyone gathered outside for a ceremonial ribbon cutting, followed by refreshments and fellowship.

Barbara Marrow, a member of the Social Justice and Environment Committee (SJE) who was instrumental in moving this project forward, wrote: As Unitarian Universalists, “our mission includes working for a just community. As UU’s, we are dedicated to finding ways to not only advocate for social justice issues, but also to take concrete action and “be the change.” Environmental / Climate justice is at a critical crossroads and is especially impacting not only marginalized human communities (2nd principle), but all living things (7th principle).  Going solar was one step our relatively small congregation could take to address our concerns in our own small way, and to set an example for our members and for the larger community.”

Jeanane Reagan remarked that the 24kW system will offset 372 metric tons of carbon dioxide while saving an estimated $110,000 over the next twenty-five years.

UU of Lake County’s Solar Journey - What about your congregation?

In 2017, when the church was being built, solar panels were considered but deferred. But in 2019, conversations and research restarted led by the Social Justice and Environment Committee (SJE) and a Sunday service guest speaker, Chris Castro, Director of Sustainability and Resilience, City of Orlando suggested a path.  That discussion led the group to Solar United Neighbors, a group that was forming cooperatives around the state, and the rest is history.

Barbara Marrow concluded: “As a member of the co-op, UUCLC was able to learn more about our logistical options and costs. Thanks to the hard work of Christina Wilkins, UUCLC’s Buildings and Grounds chair and then Treasurer, as well as the approval and overwhelming support of the members, we flipped the switch of our very own solar array on December 31 of last year.  Timing, as they say, is everything.

 
 
 
 

Join us for the launch of UU the Vote 2022!

We plan to kick off our UU the Vote work on Sunday, April 10 at 1pm PT / 2pm MT / 3pm CT / 4pm ET. This 90-minute live webinar will feature UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray, our state partners, and our new UU the Vote Campaign Manager. Learn how our program is going deeper into values-based conversation, showing up for ballot measures to combat voter suppression, fight for reproductive justice, and resist the criminalization of BIack, Indigenous, and people of color communities. 

Will you join us to launch UU the Vote 2022?

Here is the UU the Vote 2022 Launch Media Kit

 
 
 
 
 

Opportunities for Congregations

Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) Action in West Palm Beach

On April 2, 2022 Wendy’s boycott is marching in Palm Beach

 
 

From the CIW website:

Get ready, Fair Food Nation!  Major Wendy’s Boycott mobilization will bring the fight for farmworkers’ fundamental human rights to Palm Beach, hometown of Wendy’s Board Chair Nelson Peltz and the company’s largest shareholder Trian Partners.

Rev. Tony Fisher, minister of the UU Congregation of Greater Naples, member of the CIW/AFF Faith Working Group, invites Unitarian Universalists and friends to show up with CIW on April 2, 2022.

Rev. Fisher reports that Mary Katherine Morn, president and CEO of the UU Service Committee, is likely to be marching in person.

Email Rev. Fisher for more information.

 
 
 

Awakening the Dreamer Symposium

All Faiths Unitarian Congregation.
Saturday, April 2nd, 9:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.
Facilitated by Gary Robbins and Joe Bonasia
The program includes lunch
2756 McGregor Blvd., Fort Myers FL 33901

Awakening the Dreamer is a transformative educational program that explores the challenges facing humanity at this critical moment in time and the opportunities we as a human family must create a new future.

This experience is about waking up from the “dream of the modern world” that is destroying our planet and way of life. Through videos, slides, presentations, and discussions, we aim to create an environmentally sustainable, socially just, and spiritually fulfilling human presence on Earth. While we initially deal with some disturbing facts, we promise that you will leave feeling optimistic, empowered, and inspired to help create our new future. 

Holley Rauen, RN holleyrauen@gmail.com, cell 239 464-6556
Calusa Waterkeeper Ranger
 
Panelists and Speakers:
Colin Walkes - former mayor of Pahokee, representing Sierra Club’s “Stop the Burn” Campaign
Robert C. Mitcherll, Friends of the Everglades
Dr. Arkush Banzal, Clinicians for Climate Action
Aliki Moncrief, Executive Director of Florida Conservation Voters
Representative Anna V. Eskamani, District 47 Orange County, Florida House of Representatives
 

DRUUMM (Diverse & Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries)

DRUUMM is asking Congregations to contribute to a May 4, Worship and Fundraiser.

Two excerpts from the Announcement and Request letter:

As DRUUMM President, I am writing to seek your support for our 2022 DRUUMM Worship & Fundraiser. It will be held on Wednesday, May 4th, 2022, at 8:30pm Eastern. Our working theme is This is an Altar Call with the Reverend B. Tyler Coles. This will be a public virtual event.

DRUUMM’s Worship & Fundraiser is an opportunity for the wider world of Unitarian Universalism to connect with DRUUMM and be in community together. The Worship is open to everyone while prioritizing space for Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. We particularly encourage our DRUUMM members in multiracial families and White antiracist allies to join.

UU Justice Florida has contributed to the DRUUM fundraiser, and we invite you to learn more.   For more information, see the request letter here and the DRUUMM website.

 

Getting Involved with the Article II Study

The Article II Study Commission is connecting with Unitarian Universalists throughout the Association to hear from you about what—if any—changes to Article II might lead us boldly into the future. What’s Article II? It’s the section of the UUA bylaws that serves as the home of our Principles and Sources, the UUA’s Purposes, our Inclusion clause, and Freedom of Belief Statement.

As a living faith, we must regularly revisit the documents that guide us to be sure they match our values and commitments. You are invited to utilize new resources developed by the Study Commission to engage your community in this study and share back your reflections through the Article II Individual Survey (Google Form). Check out the new resources and scheduled opportunities to engage with the Article Study Commission in the latest communication from the Commissioners, here.

Join the Article II Study Commission for Open Office Hours on March 28th.

Theological Panel Series
The Article II Study Commission is hosting several public conversations in March and April (March 24, April 8, and April 15), bringing together a panel of speakers and asking them a few questions on a theme. Those in attendance are provided a survey link to think further on the questions being discussed to provide the Study Commission with their thoughts. Learn more and register for conversations here.

 

 

More on the 8th Principle and its Significance

Why single out racism when there are so many oppressions?

At a global level, this would not necessarily make sense (for instance, the oppression of women is fundamental to poverty and lack of development in many areas), but in the USA, racism stands out.  The two worst crises of the UUA were both related to race.

The Black Empowerment Controversy 1968-1970. After much pressure from black Uus after the race riots in 1967, the 1968 General Assembly funded the UUA’s Black Affairs Council [BAC] $1,000,000, to be paid over four years. The first payments were made, but then the UUA had a huge budget deficit and had to renege on the remaining payments. Amid bitterness, most of the black UU’s left the denomination.

And in 2017 UUA President Morales left 3 months before the end of his term because of controversy regarding the UUA’s hiring practices and charges of institutional racism when the UUA installed a white person as head of the Southern Region, skipping over several highly qualified persons of color.

Racism in the US stems from chattel slavery, where people were uniquely, and legally treated as property that could be inherited, for something (skin color) they had no control over. Systemic racism is endemic in the US right now, as evidenced by all the shootings of unarmed black people.

The above is an 8th Principle committee summary statement prepared by a Florida congregation in preparation of the upcoming May congregation vote on the 8th Principle. The 8th Principle reads: “We, the member congregations of the Unitarian Universalist Association, covenant to affirm and promote journeying toward spiritual wholeness by working to build a diverse multicultural Beloved Community by our actions that accountably dismantle racism and other oppressions in ourselves and our institutions.”

Submitted by Steve Jens-Rochow, UUJF Board member

 

Earth Day April 23

How will your congregations with your wider community be recognizing the issues that are literally overwhelming the future of our world?

 
UUJF Funding Announcement
Congregational Member Funding Opportunity

 

UU Justice Florida (UUJF) is offering a funding opportunity to kick start, energize or supplement your Unitarian Universalist inspired outreach work.

What we are offering

UUJF is offering grants of up to $1,000.00 to aid a UU group’s work that supports UU Justice Florida’s major goal of promoting justice, equity, and compassion in public policy in Florida. UUJF’s core issues are Democracy in Action, Environmental Justice, Public Health and Safety, Immigration Reform, LGBTQ+ and Gender Justice.

Request an application here.

Applicants need to complete the Google Application form to receive funding for your UU group’s work and submit it to UUJF for review and acceptance.  Once your request is approved by the UUJF Board, you, your minister or/and Board president will be sent the approved application and they will be asked to acknowledge your grant and plans. Please remember, your project’s purpose(s) must align with UU Justice Florida’s goals and core issues as described above. 

Your responsibilities

You will be responsible for saving receipts of expenditures and writing a simple narrative report regarding the results of your project within 6 months of grant acceptance. If the project continues past six months, a preliminary report and receipts collected to that point needs to be submitted, with a final report and receipts by the end of 12 months.

More detailed information will accompany the application.

 
 
 
 
 

Please submit news and upcoming events in your congregation for the May newsletter to info@uujusticefl.org in time for publication April 25.

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Is your congregation involved in upcoming social justice initiatives in our area? Send us a link or more information to publicize your programs and actions.
 

Unitarian Universalist Justice Florida
P.O. Box 1310 | Orange Park, Florida 32067
  info@uujusticefl.org

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