Our church strongly supports social justice. The Social Justice Committee is currently working cooperatively with the SJC from the neighboring First Parish Church of Malden. For three years our SJC worked as a “Task Force on Immigration.” We helped start the Boston chapter of the New Sanctuary Movement, and worked closely and supportively with Centro Presente and the Refugee Immigration Movement. Our work for immigrant rights continues, but we are now committed to taking up a number of different social justice issues as well.
In the past we have sponsored public talks by Aviva Chomsky (on immigration), Andrew Bacevich (on America’s endless wars), and prison activist Lois Ahrens (on mass incarceration and the state of our prisons). In addition, we have screened films such as Flow, about water resources; 9500 Liberty, about a culture war over immigration in Virginia; Made in L.A., about three Latina immigrants working in Los Angeles sweatshops; and Food, Inc., about the factory-like production of chicken, corn and beef. We cosponsored a six-month series of films about the immigrant experience with the Medford Public Library. We have also encouraged congregation-wide reads and discussion of books such as The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander and Cornell West, and The Death of Josseline by Margaret Regan. Last year, members of our Committee demonstrated for the withdrawal of our troops from Afghanistan and for greater funding of social and economic programs.
The report from the Social Justice Committee included in the church’s 2012 Annual Report may be found below.
Food Pantry delivery day
Although the Community Cupboard Food Pantry, which is located in the church, is economically independent and completely secular, it is warmly supported in its mission by the church. The Food Pantry is staffed by a coalition of volunteers from the church and from the community. For many people in the church, it represents a concrete way of translating our Unitarian Universalist commitment to service into direct action in the community.
School Supplies Distribution.
The Community Cupboard Food Pantry collects donations of new school supplies at the start of every school year to distribute to families with children who use the food pantry. Parents and grandparents struggling to put enough food on the table often find it difficult or even impossible to buy some new school supplies for their children. If you can contribute some new supplies, we are very grateful. All new supplies are welcome, including: notebooks, pens, pencils, markers, crayons, backpacks, rulers, folders, packs of paper, calculators, erasers. If you wish to contribute, please bring your donation to the church (on Sunday morning you can leave it in the marked box on the stage in Benker Hall, the meeting room of the church). If you come at another time and no one is at the church, please inquire at Osgood House, the yellow house across the street at 141 High Street. If no one is there, you can leave your donation on the back steps of Osgood House clearly marked and we will get it. Donations are being accepted until the end of September. Thank you.
Post Office Collection Food Pantry Delivery
Special Thanksgiving Food Distribution.
On the Tuesday before Thanksgiving each year, members of the church and people from the community come together to prepare Thanksgiving baskets for people who come to the Community Cupboard Food Pantry located in the church as well as for others in need in the community. As a way of learning first-hand about service to others, children in the church’s Religious Education Program play an active role in helping to prepare these baskets, although only adults are present for the actual distribution of the food.
More information on the Community Cupboard Food Pantry for prospective clients, donors and volunteers is available here.
It’s Not Your Birthday
Starting with the 2007 Christmas season, UUCM has sponsored a project where we cut back our individual expeditures on holiday gift-giving – some members by 50% or more – and contributed the amounts not spent on gifts to worthwhile organizations. The organizations are chosen each year from a list of candidates by the congregation children.
The purpose of the INYB project is to help us to gain control over our personal spending habits, contribute funds to local charities, help our children learn the value of contributing to others, and help our environment by cutting down on waste. The project helps us in regaining control of our religious lives, declaring that the holidays are Holy Days and that they belong to those who honor their spirit – not those focusing on making money off of them. A Boston Globe article on the 2009 drive can be found here.
The 2010 It’s Not Your Birthday drive raised $3159 on behalf of the UU Partner Church Student Scholarships, which funds the cost of tuition, books, uniforms and exam fees for Unitarian children in India; and Bridge Over Troubled Water, a Boston-based organization helping youth at risk.
The 2011 It’s Not Your Birthday drive raised over $2500 to fund future mission trips by UUCM youth.
2012 Report from the Social Justice Committee
The UUCM Social Justice Committee includes members from the First Parish Church of Malden, with whom we coordinate events and activities.
In August, 2011, SJC members met to consider activities for the 2011-2012 year. We decided to focus economic and environmental justice, as well as on ending the war in Afghanistan; there was also interest in immigrant and food justice.
We began to hold vigils every two weeks, alternating between the UUCM and FPC, urging an end to the war in Afghanistan. We called for bringing the troops home and using the money to create jobs. Our September SJC program built support for this campaign: people spoke about their reasons for taking on this campaign, and made signs for the vigils. Our vigils continued until December, happened again between February and April, and then ended.
In October, representatives from the Student Immigrant Movement addressed us in Malden about the predicament of undocumented students in Massachusetts, and about SIM’s campaign to pass the “Dream Act.”
In November, we showed the movie Flow, about water, to an audience of thirty people at UUCM. Nick Cohen, a local water environmentalist and activist, spoke and answered questions.
In January, Beverly Tricco, DRE of the Old Ship Church of Hingham, and members of their youth group discussed how they have worked with the micro-finance organization kiva.org to fund low-cost projects in the third world. Several members of the audience suggested that we might want to try to same kind of program at our churches.
In March, Professor Andrew Bacevich gave a public address at UUCM on “America’s Endless Wars.” The SJC did extensive outreach for the event, which drew an audience of about seventy people. A local media expert, Jeff Mazelli, taped the talk, and we also sold copies of Dr. Bacevich’s latest book.
In June, we showed the film Food, Inc. to an audience at the FPC in Malden.
This year’s co-chairs were Michael Glenn (UUCM) and Karen Lynch (FPC). Next year, UUCM will have two co-chairs – Carm Isaac and Michael Glenn – and Karen Lynch will continue as co-chair at FPC. Many UUCM members were active in the SJC this year. They include: Liz Ammons, Rita Bamford, Bill Barbeau, Phil and Annette Bloom, David Concepcion, Eileen Dunne, Dana Gallup, Michael Glenn, Carm Isaac, Susan Jhirad, Brig Johnson, Nina Kalckar, Nancy Lawrence, Dan and Tammy McKanan, Dora Nakabuye, and Steve Schmidt.