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

Just Saying 1/20/2021

I’m fascinated with Slime Mold. Not that I enjoy my encounters with it, but I suspect it’s because it’s a category of organisms that can live as independent single cells and can also come together to form multicellular structures that can move, consume nutrients and reproduce.

In the swirl of messages, we see emerging from current events there are numerous descriptions of human efforts to organize.  Sometimes these organizations profess the intention of resisting or even attacking other forms of human organization.  The democratic ideal of self-governance has been described by some as impractical, if not impossible.  The values of compassionate justice are disparaged by those who consider democratic self-governance as institutionalized sentimentality and not sustainable in the face of the threats facing humankind. Yet we see patterns of organization in nature that look like the altruistic sacrifice of the individual for the benefit of the species.  Is this sentimentality?  Or is it a phenomenon supported by the statistical advantage of diversity?

Advice given to chess players when presented with several options, all else being equal, is to move toward the center of the board because it increases the number of options.  Our challenge as we emerge from what has been described as the Anthropocene geologic epoch is to harness our search for options to the goals of survival of the species in a manner that also honors the pervasive diversity and interdependency surrounding humankind. 

Dr Martin Luther King Jr. “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny.”  This concern for others is not just sentimentality, but a calculated and ongoing effort to share the resources of our spaceship Earth. While we’ve gotten to where we are with win/lose-winner take all strategies that seem to predict a limited future, not just for ourselves but perhaps life itself.  For example, our aspiration to colonize Mars is supported by the notions of diversity, and redundancy and if successful may add to our resilience as a life form.  However, putting all our eggs in a Martian basket would likely be a fatal self-limiting mistake.

Members of the UUJF Board recently met one-on-one with Susan Leslie Congregational Advocacy and Witness Director who is also on the Organizing Strategy Team.  We found the experience productive in terms of our priorities.  We hope to pay this forward by inviting local congregational leadership and ministers to share in a one-on-one interview in which we hope to learn how all of us can more effectively organize to share resources with one another and make a more significant systemic impact. 

In support of this initiative, please ask your local congregational leaders and ministers to get in touch with UUJF and set up a mutually acceptable time for a Zoom supported one-on-one. 

Our next big challenge, with the greatest potential for reward, in our human evolution is will we unite and overcome the challenges that threaten our future.

Update - Legislative Advocacy 2021

Six Action Alerts have been e-mailed so far this month to constituents of committee members who are hearing bills on the Tracker spreadsheet. Six more will be sent for committee meetings and hearings scheduled for next week.

In addition to expressing messages of support or opposition to those bills placed on each committee’s agenda, the Alerts list critical bills of interest that must be placed on agendas of subsequent meetings in order to be heard.  Constituent support for these bills is crucial – otherwise they will ‘die in committee’ and our legislative goals will remain unfulfilled.

Several bills on Action Alerts expressing opposition to bills fast tracked for approval by the Governor and Legislative Leadership are listed below:

  • SB 484/HB 1 (see the Florida's Constitutional Rights Under Siege article below)
  • SB 72/HB 7 (Shields businesses from being held accountable for negligence and failure to protect their employees and customers from spread of Covid related illness).
  • Bills restricting women’s reproductive rights and sex education (HB 351, SB 582/HB 241…)

In addition, Action Alerts are being written to urge support of this sampling of newly filed bills to:

  • Protect the environment and water (SB 270/HB 283, SB 546, SB 514/HB 315….)
  • Remove barriers for restoration of the right to vote for returning citizens contrary to overwhelming passage of Amendment 4 (SB 798)
  • Hold law enforcement agencies and officers accountable for their actions (SB 438, SB 446, SB 452, SB 458, SB 460, SB 730 and many others)
  • Secure public health and safety (HB 25, SB 672/HB 6033…)
  • Protect human rights and the rights of members of minority and LGBTQI communities. (SB 180/HB 275, SB 194/HB 43, SCR 500.....

Other bills will be added as they are filed.
In order to achieve a critical mass of public support to influence your legislators you are encouraged to:

  • Update your current street address on the UUJF website Take Action page if —— is not your correct 9-digit Zip+4 address code.
  • Respond to targeted Action Alerts for constituents of committee members hearing bills on the Tracker.
  • Make members of your congregation aware of UUJF advocacy efforts and encourage them to join 900 other Florida UU subscribers on the UUJF email list.

Legislative Calendar

Committee Meeting Weeks:
February 1, and 8, and 15
Deadline for filing bills - Feb 26
Legislative Session March 2 - April 30
 

UUJF Climate Resilience Ministry News

The UUJF Climate Resiliency Ministry announces the launch of the EPA Environmental Justice Respiratory Health/Air Pollution Survey in 3 Orlando communities: Parramore, Holden Heights and Mercy Drive. Surveys will be conducted by Youth Environmental Equity Ambassador students who will do community impact projects to address climate change. They will study the Climate Action Plan the adults put together, write their own and then do projects consistent with those plans.

Funding was secured with EPA grant applications filed by UUJF Director of Climate Ministry, Jan Booher.

 

Florida's Constitutional Rights Under Siege

The UUJF Board voted to sign a letter from the Poor People’s Campaign opposing Gov. DeSantis’ proposed bill ‘Combatting Violence, Disorder and Looting and Law Enforcement Protection Act.

HB 1 and SB 484 - Governor DeSantis announced this dissent stifling legislation after Black Lives Matter demonstrations last year, and he’s now using the horrific attack on the U.S. Capitol as  “cover” for the legislation.  The proposed new law allows for felony charges against protestors exercising their constitutional rights. If enacted, this bill would limit the ability of local governments to increase funding for programs that prevent crime and would keep protestors in jail without bond if they are arrested during a demonstration. The right to peacefully assemble and protest is protected by the First Amendment and has been a profoundly important way to effect positive change throughout the history of our country.

 

News and Events from Congregations, the UUA and Affiliated Organizations

 

30 Days of Love

The work continues--Standing on the Side of Loves  hope this message finds you surrounded by love. Take a look at the first week of 30 Days of Love
and pick something to do next week.

30 Days of Love will focus on four themes from a recently published report called Widening the Circle of Concern, developed by the Commission on Institutional Change to address white supremacy and other oppressions within Unitarian Universalism. Widening the Circle of Concern offers a thematic blueprint for our current political and social moment.

Note: From UUtheVote, Nicole Pressley:  30 Days of Love offers ways to transition to the new work ahead-Join 30 Days of Love - an opportunity to lift up the ways Unitarian Universalists and many of our partner organizations are building and organizing by taking bold, courageous action for intersectional racial justice. Select your trainings, your activities from the 30 Days of Love offerings.

 

BIPOC CAUCUS ON CLIMATE JUSTICE

Climate change promises not to be kind on anyone, least of all those in the Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) communities.

A small group working collaboratively with the Unitarian Universalist Ministry for Earth, is moved to form a new community: A BIPOC caucus focused on the intersections of racial, environmental and climate injustices.

People who belong to communities of color are invited to gather and reflect on the current moment of climate emergency, exchange aspirations and learn how UU values can strengthen our commitments in the following workshops.

Session 1:
Thurs., February 18 - 8 pm Connecting with the UU 7th and 8th Principals
 
Session 2:
Thurs., March 18 - 8pm
Lessons from the book Justice on Earth
 
Session 3:
April – Date TBD
The Green New Deal and the Biden Plan on Climate
 

Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ)

Write Here! Write Now! Online Letter-Writing Platform

UUs for Social Justice is a network of Unitarian Universalists who mobilizes to advocate for public policy changes by amplifying UU voices at the federal level. Current foci are defending our democracy, immigration, economic, and environmental justice. Visit the UUSJ website or  Facebook page

 

Join a contingent of UUs as we explore next steps in creating Beloved UU Communities.

Sliding scale fee

New Day Rising Conference

Sponsored by UUA Congregational Life Staff Group
Saturday, February 27, 2021 12 p.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Contact: kcharles@uua.org

Is your congregation ready to take a new step in changing white supremacy culture? Want to learn what your fellow congregations are working on, and how you might apply it at home?

UU Lake County Confronting Racism Series

February 14, 2021 at 7 pm

How do we confront racism in Lake County?  That question will be posed to four local faith leaders:  Rev. John Christian, Rev. David Crump, Rev. Sandy Haxton, and Rev. Michael J. Watkins.  They will present their suggestions during a free, online discussion.

Hosted by the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Lake County. Register here.

FYI: Lake County is west of Orlando with a population of 380,000, a citrus and farming history, currently a expansion growth area for Orlando, neighbor of Orange County, Marion County, Sumter County and Polk County.  Would your congregation want to host a similar discussion?

 

UUCOV blogs and letters

UUJF knows that many UUs have been blogging and writing for years.  If you have a local issue that may need state-level solutions, especially if a government office or proposed legislation could help the situation, share your issue with UUJF, so we can share with others.

Brad Hardin of UU Venice started a letter writing campaign a few years ago in the Venice area.  The group named themselves, Sensible Messaging Activity to Restore Truth (SMART). The issues of concern can be federal, state and local. Given that the Florida legislative session starts soon, UU Justice Florida encourages you to express to write letters on state and local issues for publication in the Opinion Sections of one or more local newspapers.

Call Brad Hardin for more information 941-223-6849

 
 
 
 
 
 

Please submit news and upcoming events in your congregation for the March newsletter to info@uujusticefl.org for publication February 20.

Was this Newsletter forwarded to you? Join our mailing list! Sign up here.

Have you moved or changed congregations? Update your current contact information so we can match you with your Legislative District.
Visit the UUJF website and UUJF Facebook group
View archived UUJF newsletters.
 
Does your congregation have an online sermon 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 program or event.
 

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

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