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

Just Saying 2/20/2021

As I grappled with this month’s “Just Saying”, I reread something about Servant Leadership that stressed the importance of being a good listener.  The author quoted a study by Taylor Berens Crouch, a doctoral candidate in clinical psych.  Crouch said, assuming “…we’re trying to lead people in a direction that they want, we must understand people’s desires, perspectives and thoughts.  Listening is necessary to get that information.”

The article listed six habits of great listeners.  1) Practice being mindful. Consciously choose to listen. Avoid internal distractions including the inclination to judge, predict, and evaluate. 2) Instead of forming our response while listening, pause before responding to consider our response. 3) Paraphrase what was said or practice active listening. 4) Have an open mind. Be curious about what the person has to say. Do not assume we know what they think or feel. 5) Expect to feel discomfort when we hear something with which we disagree.  Quality listening can give the impression we agree, and we may be tempted to state our opposing perspective. Experiment with reserving that perspective.  6) If we are present with someone, even in a video call over the Internet, our nonverbal facial expression and posture can communicate interest and attentiveness or not. Leaning forward making eye contact and nodding occasionally can show we are interested.

To be honest, being a good listener is not enough to reconcile the differences between our perspective and those whose positions fundamentally oppose our own. To be open to discussion the partisan divide must be about different ways for living the founding principles of our Constitution. When the actions of others are in opposition to our Constitution and the rule of law, or undermine the health of our democracy, we can start with listening, but at some point, we must engage in a discussion that finds common ground about our ultimate goals.

Division is often fostered to reduce the potential for opposition through united action.  If someone is deleting, distorting, or generalizing the facts as we understand them, or when we hear lazy, crazy, silly, stupid, bad, or ugly coming from a person we hope to influence, it is easier to avoid reacting, if we recognize this aggression is usually a response to a perceived threat. There are plenty of forces impacting our lives that can seem to threaten our safety or wellbeing.  Acknowledging the other’s fears can start a deeper understanding of their needs and it is in clarifying those needs that we can find the common ground where unity can take root. Finding someone who can listen to us can also help us clarify our perspective and find ways to meet our own needs.


Update - Legislative Advocacy 2021

No doubt you have received more than a few of the 36 Action Alerts that have been sent to date. Many more will be sent to constituents of committee members who are hearing bills on the Tracker spreadsheet while the Legislature is in session March 2 – April 30. 

In addition to expressing messages of support or opposition to bills placed on weekly committee meeting agendas, the Alerts list additional critical bills of interest that Committee Chairs must place 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. 

Action Alerts opposing a number of bills fast-tracked for approval by the Governor and Legislative Leadership have addressed  or will address the following:

  • Threats to our Constitutional Rights to peaceful assembly and free speech
  • Measures shielding businesses and health providers from accountability for negligence and failure to protect their employees, customers, and patients from spread of Covid related illness
  • Restrictions on women’s reproductive rights and sex education of youth
  • Diversion of scholarship programs and vouchers from public education to unregulated private schools
  • Unsupported and unwarranted changes to mail-in ballot protocols, drop off ballot boxes, voting days, identification requirements, signature checking, and more
  • Preemptions of local initiatives and regulation to the state
  • Censorship of social media platforms

Other Action Alerts call for constituent support of bills to enact these changes in public policy consistent with UU Principles and Purposes:

  • Protections for a sustainable environment and abundant clean water 
  • Removal of barriers for restoration of the right to vote for returning citizens following overwhelming passage of Amendment 4
  • Accountability of law enforcement agencies and officers for their actions
  • Elimination of excessive use of force by law enforcement
  • Protections for public health and safety
  • Support for human rights including members of immigrant, minority and LGBTQI communities

Florida faces a potential $2 billion dollar deficit, high unemployment, a population that is still dealing with COVID-19, and evictions.  Traditionally, a conservative state government has supported business and supported the tourist industry.    However, new residents of Florida want a clean environment, sufficient water, and affordable home insurance.  Thus, legislation for a sustainable environment must be supported despite challenges to local control.

The state’s financial woes have been eased somewhat by almost $4.7 billion in federal relief. Gov. DeSantis is proposing a $96.6 billion state budget for next year that is $4.3 billion bigger than 2020-21, with more than half the increase coming from the inflow of dollars from Washington D.C.


In UUJF President Bud Murphy’s Just Saying column, he encourages active listening and dialog to resolve our partisan divide.  Our Principles and Purposes demand UUs to be proactive in their advocacy for implementing social progress.  Your response to Action Alerts is one way we can fulfill this charge.

2021 Legislative Calendar

Deadline for filing bills - Feb 26
Legislative Session March 2 - April 30
Final day for committee meetings April 20

News and Events from the UUA, Congregations and Affiliated Organizations

UU Lake County Confronting Racism Series - Part 3

March 14, 2021 7:00 pm – 8:30 pm

"Living Racism" - Cassandra Brown and Mae Hazelton, co-founders of 2020 All About the Ballots, will present a 90-minute interactive learning experience to show what living in the racial wealth gap is like. Participants will be divided into breakout groups and guided by facilitators. 

Register here for Living in the Racial Wealth Gap March 14


UU Ministry for Earth

On March 11, UU Ministry for Earth, UUs for Social Justice and Interfaith Power & Light, supported by many faith groups, will be joining the largest-ever multi-faith grassroots global Sacred People Sacred Earth Day of Action for climate justice, put forth by GreenFaith.


Bewildered by Fast Pace on Immigration? Join UUSJ Webinar 

Join UUSJ’s Immigration Action Team on Wednesday, March 24 (7:30-9 pm ET) for a webinar on US history of immigration policy which includes Whites-only citizenship! Chinese exclusion! Quotas to keep out southern Europeans! And Reagan’s amnesty for undocumented persons!  The Immigration Team will also share its views on the last 10 years and the future its current priorities and seek your feedback. Register HERE to receive the zoom link. Contact Charlotte Jones-Carroll 


UUA Draft Statement of Conscience on Undoing White Supremacy

The UU Association’s draft of this year’s Statement of Conscience, “Undoing Intersectional White Supremacy: A Call to Prophetic Action,” is now available for review and study. It calls for Unitarian Universalists to “engage in urgent action to confront the moral crisis of our time,” and is expected to be offered at this year’s virtual General Assembly, June 23-27


UUA Organizing Strategy Team 

The role and priorities of the UUA Organizing Strategy Team is to drive strategy, strengthen the capacity of Unitarian Universalists (UUs) to organize for justice, and to mobilize power and people for liberation. The team’s approach recognizes that there are many issues and partnerships that individual Unitarian Universalist and UU congregations are invested in, while also modeling focus on four key intersectional priorities to strategically build power for creating justice at this time. 

  • Climate justice, inclusive of indigenous sovereignty and climate resilience 

The Team’s focus is guided by the following questions: 

  • Where are frontline organized communities who want the support of people of faith? 
  • Where can we push faith-based justice work to be more unapologetic and courageous? 
  • Where is the organic energy flowing among Unitarian Universalists and frontline organizers? 

Click here for OST staff team members and priorities.    

Note, the UUA's Side With Love and UU the Vote campaigns and our joint Love Resists campaign with the UUSC are staffed by OST. 


Please submit news and upcoming events in your congregation for the April newsletter to for publication March 20.

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

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