The First Unitarian covenant calls for social justice to be “…a positive force for social, environmental, and economic action.” This is the cornerstone of who we are as Unitarian Universalists and people of faith. The mission of the Social Justice Council is to foster and support programs and activities that provide such opportunities.
The Social Justice Council
The Council is an umbrella organization formed to nurture the activities of groups taking action in the community and to promote systemic change. The Council is devoted to enabling and funding social justice efforts within the church and the larger community. First Unitarian has 13 groups that provide food, tutor neighborhood children, improve the environment, pursue racial justice, conduct citizenship classes, offer ESL classes, seek economic justice, and more. Click here for a complete list of the church and community justice groups we support.
Core justice programs include: After School Program, Adult Language, Literacy and Citizenship Program, Earth Web, Family Promise, and Food Pantry. Many of our programs – except Wednesday’s Food Pantry – have been suspended due to COVID restrictions (See First U’s COVID Safe Policies for more information)
The Council is composed of up to 9 members and generally meet monthly on the 3rd Thursday of the month. During COVID-19, the Council will be conducting meetings via Zoom. Council members are appointed for two-year terms and are eligible to serve for two 2-year terms before rotating off the Council. Current members are:
- Bethe Orrell, Chair
- Geri Knoebel, Secretary
- Bob Mueller, Treasurer
- Benita Terrell
- Chris Mayo
- Elly Van Mil
- Carla Williams
- Peggy Whitmore
Social Justice Auction
Annually, the Council holds its social justice auction to raise funds to support the Church’s social justice programs. This year, COVID-19 has all but eliminated social events so that the auction cannot be held in house. The 2020 Council held its virtual auction in November focusing on services in order to foster community and fellowship as well as fund raising.
These funds are available in small grants available to community groups – both within and outside the church – whose work reflects UU values and principles. Funding criteria and applications can be found here.
Change for the Future
Our “Change for the Future” program has been part of our religious practice for many years. Each year, nominations of organizations serving the Albuquerque and New Mexico communities are sought and the Council reviews the applications. To apply, click here. The selected organizations are presented to the congregation for a vote at the January Annual Meeting. Four organizations are chosen to receive three months of our time, attention, and financial contributions beginning in March. The Change for the Future Committee provides support to each of the groups elected, helping them educate church members about their missions. Recipients receiving this funding may not apply in consecutive years.
Guest at Your Table
Guest at Your Table (GAYT) is Unitarian Universalist Service Committee’s annual intergenerational program to raise support for and awareness about key human rights issues. Last year’s theme was “Justice Across Borders.” Generally, this effort in headed up by the RE Council in the spring. National UUSC sends the boxes to collect change, mostly for kids. Because of COVID-19, this event did not happen during 2020. Read more about the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee here.