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

Just Saying 12/11/2021

In a recent post, a friend quoted Gandhi as having said “The Science of war leads one to dictatorship, pure and simple.”

Rev. Meg Ryan posted this quote recently from Brené Brown: “While the far enemy of connection is disconnection, the near enemy of connection is control.”

Another quoted Meher Baba, “The gift of understanding is more precious than any other attribute of love,...”

All “would be” influencers want to make an impact, and many seek control, but when we seek control, while we may influence choices as in a dictatorship, we may not foster the ability to make wise choices.  

A member of one of our congregations eager to cultivate social justice activism emailed us saying “…[W]e are not cultivating social activists by Bombarding people with articles, petitions etc. It is when people feel valued, connected, and attached (personal qualities that we must develop) that they will want to join the UU justice committees that work to make life better for others.”  The writer continues with the suggestion that “[We]…create forums to hear congregants’ concerns, etc. It just might net us a more vibrant and larger group of activists”.  While a judicious sharing of relevant facts is important, we agree that connection through understanding is the ground of effective social justice activism. 

Corporations managing change use a strategy called “Force Field Analysis” in which they identify the driving and restraining forces that contribute to the status quo.  Simply, increasing the drivers tends to trigger increasing resistance. Whereas, understanding the restraining forces and working to reduce them is a more effective way of fostering healthy change. What are the resource limitations and other concerns? Understanding and addressing these restraints allows the driving forces to operate. 

The deadly crush of fans at a concert in Texas underscores how the perception of danger can lead to a self-defeating response in which the attempt to escape adds to the danger.  Similarly, the social network designed to increase user participation uses fear as a motivating dynamic and the more that people respond by sharing the more credible the danger appears. Controlling this dynamic is essential to our global survival.

The UU congregation at St. Petersburg in anticipation of overcoming the pandemic’s sense of separation and isolation, has volunteers scheduling conversations with members, not to control, not to recruit or motivate, but to create opportunities for understanding, the highest attribute of love. Could your congregation benefit from a similar initiative?

Whether it’s the relative who has a different take on the polarizing issues of our day, a member of the congregation we haven’t seen in a while, or anyone we hope to influence, if we take time to listen and let them know we understand, without judgment, while it won’t result in control, our shared understanding is likely to help us realize more of our potential. The challenges we face demand our best relationship and collaborative problem-solving skills, as we build a bridge to a desirable and sustainable future.

Visit this link for information on promoting human understanding and nonviolent communication.

Richard (Bud) Murphy Pres. UUJF

 

Legislative Update

Regular readers of this column will recall that pre-session meetings with legislators have been recommended as one of the most effective ways for building relationships and influencing their actions. You now have the opportunity to hear this message firsthand along with other suggestions for influencing legislation and public policy in a one hour ZOOM recording featuring Representatives Anna Eskamani and Carlos G. Smith hosted by Florida’s two Indivisible Regional Organizers.

Redistricting Matters

Keep up with Florida’s decennial redistricting process and learn how you can participate in the process.

Census information, mapping information and a formal invitation to the public to become involved  is online at the Florida redistricting website.

 

News and Events from Congregations

 

Unitarian Universalist for Social Justice

2021 Social Justice Awards

UU Church of St. Petersburg and UU Church of Lake County received nominations for the 2021 UUSJ Social Justice Award. Their projects and efforts are detailed below.

 

UU Church of St. Petersburg

Tiny Homes for Veterans Facing Homelessness

Many members at UU Church of St. Petersburg (UUSP) have been supporting the mission of Celebrate Outreach (CO), a local nonprofit working with a mission to end and prevent veteran homelessness since their Tiny Homes project started.  

The Social Justice committee and members became more involved when the nonprofit was ready to build a Tiny Home.  Reggie Craig, a member of the social justice committee and a general contractor for the Tiny Homes for Vets project, shared with the Social Justice team and the church the challenges of the Tiny Homes project (design, permitting, finding affordable land under a leasing city program, city of Petersburg support, fund raising) and the need for many community partners. He was nominated with the Team for the work for homeless veterans.

Thus, UU St. Petersburg, informed by members Reggie Craig and Sabine von Aulock, became a one of many Tiny Home for Homeless Veterans building partners. A two year commitment of fund raising and labor as well as recruitment of friends with skills and tools has resulted in a completed home recently.

Celebrate Outreach is now working with local social service agencies to select a veteran for this low cost very affordable home. For more information about the Tiny Home for Homeless Veterans Project click here.

This project came to UU Justice Florida’s attention because Karen Coale, president of UU St. Petersburg, nominated Reggie Craig and the Team Project for a UU Social Justice award. Congratulations St. Petersburg. For more information visit St. Petersburg’s website.

 
 

UU Church of Lake County

Social Justice Lecture Series

The Unitarian Church of Lake County (UUCLC), a growing congregation located west of Orlando, has a strong commitment to social justice. The Mission of the Social Justice and Environment (SJE) Committee of this growing and active church “is to support congregation members and local groups in working toward a more just community socially, economically, and environmentally.  The vision of the Committee is to be a known, trusted, and effective ally within our congregation and our community in making a positive difference.”

One project was the Social Justice Lecture Series. An article in the Newsletter explained that the Lecture Series introduced the church’s commitment to social justice and the environment to the wider community. One consequence of this series was the discovery of new partners in their efforts to create a better world.

Russ Littlefield, president of Unitarian Universalist Church of Lake County (UUCLC), wrote that “Our Social Justice Committee nominated Jane Hepting for the 2021 UU Social Justice Award as she did much of the work in organizing the Social Justice and Environment Committee (SJE) Lecture series  2020-2021. Russ explained that Jane is one of the superstars on the very active and committed committee. The virtual series was grouped by topic and was scheduled Sunday evenings. Issues concerning Lake County were the focus. Recordings were available for a limited time. The Lecture Series was held over two years.

Topics were:  Criminal Justice System: What Makes our Criminal Justice System so Unjust; Ending Racism-a 3 part series (Healing Racism, Confronting Racism, and Living Racism);

Saving Our Environment (Beautiful Lake County: Managing Our Growth-three environmental local advocates presented).

President Littlefield advised that many people contributed to the success of the Lecture Series.  Jane Hepting, the nominee for the Award, was a major planner and motivator but committee members, volunteer presenters and the technical team (hosting and technical support), were essential to the success of the Series.   At least one Lecture is still available to view.

Visit the UU Church of Lake County website for more information.

 

UUA, UUSC and Southern Region

 

Essentials Leadership Experience

November 2021 - February 2022
The Virtual Leadership Experience
 

First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1U) has a new settled minister and has formed a leadership development committee recently to encourage and support members who take leadership roles on our committees and teams. So, it seemed a good time to take a Leadership class. Whether as a leader or a participant, it is important to me to learn how to help my congregation work together more effectively.

The first of three on-line workshops was held December 4.  To prepare for the meeting, participants read and viewed materials sent to us three weeks earlier. The first part of the meeting was a 20-minute summary of the “homework.” This was followed by a 90-minute sharing opportunity about selected topics, in breakout rooms each with about 12 participants from different congregations, led by a facilitator. There will be two more on-line workshops in January and February.

I am looking forward to learning next steps and hearing from UUs from other congregations.

Martha Hartgering, First Unitarian Church of Orlando (1U)

Editor’s Note: Nine Florida UUs enrolled in the Southern Region Leadership Experience training and UU Justice Florida funded two $75 scholarships to those who applied.

 
 
 

Southeast Florida Cluster of the UUA Southern Region

 
Jubilee Three Workshop – Southeast Cluster Annual Meeting
Saturday, October 30, 2021

Presenters: Paula Cole Jones, Rev. Dr. Leon Spencer, Lutricia Callair

The proposed Eighth Principle

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.

The Eighth Principle Adoption within UU Congregations

In 2017 two congregations in the UUA had adopted the Eighth Principle. In 2020 26 had adopted it. By this point in 2021, 130 hadadopted it. The final vote will be at GA in 2024.

Leon’s Framework.

  • Race is a social construct. No basis in genetics. Not mentioned in early 1600s. People were identified as Irish, Protestant, or a Person in Servitude. The use of White or Black or Negro only came into use later.
  • Take action; dismantle racism. It is with us 24/7/365 days of the year. 
  • Dismantle by adopting love and affirming our community through an eighth principle antiracist lens. 
  • The goal is a multicultural society.

Definitions:

  • White Supremacy – White race is superior to other groups.
  • Racism –  systemic discrimination by a group using power and privilege.
  • Prejudice – preconceived discrimination by an individual against another group.
  • BIPOC – Black, Indigenous and People of Color

Racism is covert; most white people do not see it. Class oppression and racial oppression are held in place by white privilege. There is no biological basis for race.

Ideas for Implementation Within Congregations

  1. Inclusion in Mission Statement. Broaden the Circle of Inclusion in your By-Laws and procedures.
  2. Weekly messages about the Eighth Principle in the weekly newsletter and Sunday service.
  3. Incorporate the Eighth Principle in every committee and team.
  4. Start a black movie discussion group beginning with the film  “Passing” which is available on Netflix.
  5. Start a partnership Congregations in Cooperation between local black congregations and your congregation. Break bread together.
  6. Small group gatherings to start the discussion of racism and the 8th principle. – 8th principle Pot Luck Conversations. Discuss Antiracist books at the gatherings.
  7. Weave the Eighth Principle into the minister’s messages.

Toward the end of the Workshop, Paula Cole Jones invited attendees to register for a newly redesigned online upcoming Jubilee Three Workshop.

Friday, January 14, 2022, 6:00 pm - Sunday, January 16, 2022, 7:00 pm

You are invited to participate in the online Jubilee Three Anti-Racism Training: Learning Together About Systemic Racism, Acclaimed Program, Experienced Trainers

Six Scholarships for Jubilee 3 Anti-Racism Training

The UUJF Board has voted to fund $170 scholarships to the first six members of Florida UU congregations who request a Scholarship for the Jubilee-3 Anti-Racism Training in 2022. UUJF wants at least two members of a congregation to attend the Virtual Jubilee 3 training. Thus, to request a Scholarship, applicant needs to name a member from their congregation who took the Virtual Jubilee 3 training in November 2021 or will be taking it in January 2022 in their request email. To receive registration reimbursement forward your acknowledgment of the paid Jubilee-3 registration along with your mailing address to info@uujusticefl.org and the UUJF treasurer will send you a check for $170.

Request your scholarship and register as soon as possible. A short online survey about the Workshop will be sent to Attendees soon after the Training.

 

Members of the UUJF Board extend their very best wishes to all Florida UUs and their families for a healthy and happy Holiday Season and for the New Year that lies ahead.

We hope that, by sharing your congregation’s efforts for justice in your community, you will inspire and encourage other congregations in theirs. Send news of your congregation’s social justice efforts and events to info@uujusticefl.org and we will be happy to publicize them.

 
 
 

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

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Visit the UUJF website and UUJF Facebook group
View archived UUJF newsletters.
 
Does your congregation have an online sermon or event that addresses a Justice issue?
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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