Social Justice has always been an important part of our mission at UUCM; historically, in fact, more people have been involved in social justice work than in other church activity except our Religious Education program.
We spent three years from 2009 – 2012 working on the issue of immigration reform. We had many speakers, including Aviva Chomsky, screened a number of films, and helped start the Boston chapter of the New Sanctuary Movement. In 2013 – 2014 we sponsored a monthly LGBTQ film festival. From 2012 – 2015 we also worked around racism, the “war on drugs,” and mass incarceration: we sponsored a church read of Michelle Alexander’s The New Jim Crow (and went to see her when she spoke at Tufts) and a group visit to see “The House I Live In,” and we held a workshop on systemic racism for the church based on the film “Breaking the Code.” During this time we brought in several speakers—including those from EPOCA, Our Prison Neighbors, and LEAP (Law Enforcement Officers against Prohibition). We have also screened films on many topics, including the global water crisis, food justice, profiling, climate change, poverty, and immigration; and we’ve had a number of speakers—including Prof. Andrew Bacevich who gave a public address on our country’s “Never-ending War”. Between 2014 – 2016 we had a three-month read of Sandy Tolan’s book about Israel and Palestine, The Lemon Tree, and continued our involvement against mass incarceration.,
The theme of this year’s work is “encounter.” Taking a leaf from our fellow congregant Dan McKanan’s excellent book, Prophetic Encounters: Religion and the American Radical Tradition, we hope to enter into greater dialogue with others in Medford and surrounding towns. This includes partnering with other faith-based groups and community organizations as well as working within them.
Currently our social justice efforts focus on two large areas: (1) issues around immigration, including refugee support, countering islamophobia, and immigrant justice; and (2) issues around racism. Work around the first of these issues includes our October 2nd lay-led service around the world’s refugee crisis, featuring testimony by the Syrian refugee Amira Elamri which was followed by a special second collection to aid UUSC-UUA refugee assistance. Our work around racism has led us to become more acquainted with the Black Lives Matter movement (we have a “Black Lives Matter” banner in front of the church), SURJ (Show Up for Racial Justice), and other such organizations. Our members are active in the Medford Human Rights Commission, and we look forward to participating in the forthcoming Medford Conversations Project on diversity and race.
Over the last several years we’ve enthusiastically partnered with other UU churches, especially our neighboring First Parish Church in Malden and the First Parish Church in Arlington. We enjoy linking up with like-minded folks in other faith-based organizations. It strengthens each group’s work. Currently we working closely with the Malden FPC and look forward, for example, to a joint November-December read of the UUA book of the year, Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II’s The Third Reconstruction.