Green and Social Justice
Green and Social Justice
In August 2015, the Green Sanctuary Committee and Social Justice Committee were combined to form the Green & Social Justice Committee. Since then, the Green and Social Justice Committee has endeavored to facilitate action plans that involve the entire congregation and has sought to get more and more congregants involved. We are also enhancing our coordination and partnership, including regular joint meetings, with the Community Outreach Ministry at First Unitarian Universalist Society of Syracuse.
Our Green and Social Justice Hot Line was activated in January 2017 to provide a system for those who are willing to directly contact local, state and federal legislators on current issues. We now have over 50 Hot Line participants and the list continues to grow.
Each month, we write a column for the MMUUS newsletter, alternating between environmental themes (the "Going Green" column) and social justice themes (the "Seeking Social Justice" column).
In 2011, we became recognized as a Green Sanctuary by the Unitarian Universalist Association. Since then, we have hosted speakers on climate change, environmental justice, and urban gardening; we have organized congregants to participate in environmental action projects; and we have worked to make our building more energy efficient and environmentally sustainable.
Members of our committee have been involved in local and national environmental efforts such as the People's Climate March, Citizens Climate Lobby, and the Onondaga Lake Conservation Corps.
We are organizing a workshop for Spring 2018 on how to write opinion pieces and letters-to-the-editor on climate change.
We are currently seeking re-accreditation as a Green Sanctuary and are reviewing other measures to deepen our focus on sustainability and environmental justice.
In May 2017, our congregation voted to support the Black Lives Matter movement. We regularly discuss racial justice and white supremacy in worship. Members of the congregation often attend rallies and other events featuring BLM Syracuse. We are currently exploring ways to engage with racial justice organizations in Syracuse.
We also work with local organizations on other social justice issues like refugee resettlement and assistance to regional farmworkers. Our activism resulted in a Winter Coat and Clothing Drive and Starter Gift contributions to the Center for New Americans and a Water Drive for folks in Flint, Michigan, as examples. Members of our committee have also been involved in efforts on behalf of the people of Puerto Rico and other areas devastated by recent hurricanes.
For many years, we have supported interfaith efforts in Syracuse. We regularly publicize and attend events by Interfaith Works. For the past few years, we have participated in Interfaith Harmony, an annual celebration of interfaith work in Syracuse.
Each year we sponsor a Samuel May Sunday, a worship service that commemorates the social justice legacy of one of our earliest ministers. This year, we hosted Robin Kimmerer, Distinguished Teaching Professor and Director, Center for Native Peoples and the Environment.
We also sponsor services to commemorate Black History Month and Women's History Month. In 2017, for example, we had a service devoted to the life of noted nineteenth century abolitionist and minister Jermain Wesley Loguen, who had escaped slavery and eventually settled in Syracuse.
We are currently working to renew our status as an LGBTQ Welcoming Congregation.
We are organizing a public forum for spring 2018 on the social justice implications of the I-81 replacement project in Syracuse.
Here are other examples of recent activities led and/or supported by the Green and Social Justice Committee:
- During the church year 2015-16, the committee sponsored guest speakers under the auspices of the Change the World Speakers Series. Speakers included one of the Lost Boys of Sudan, Harriet Tubman's grand niece and author, representative from Citizen's Climate Lobby, and a worker from Al Gore's organization.
- Fundraiser and water collection drive for Flint, Michigan that was coordinated with People's AME Zion Church in Syracuse in 2016.
- Participated in the Airport Ambassadors program and donated 42 Household Starter Kits for the Center for New Americans in Syracuse which serves refugees and naturalized citizens in 2017.
- In 2016, they sponsored winter coat & clothing drive for Center for New Americans..
- Sponsor a yearly event for local chapter of People for Animal Rights, held in our Social Hall.