Newsletters / Bulletins

Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry 

Of North Carolina

Update: April 28, 2017

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

In this issue:

Gerrymandering

Congregation Liaisons

Immigration and Sanctuary

Pauly Richardson

Rev. Kenn Hurto

The North Carolina 2017 pollen season is on the wane. HallelUUjah! Crossover Day that in some ways limits state legislator mischief has now passed. Although we can wash our vehicles, porches and windows of the yellow stuff that also contaminates our filtration systems, we can’t be confident that state bills that did not pass one chamber cannot also now be attached to state bills that now qualify for legislative action. A thinking citizen’s work is never done.

Gerrymandering:

The weeding season has also begun. Although weeding may be good for the soul, it never ends. The challenge is to find environmentally safe but also effective means to get to the weed’s roots. More people across our state and nation are digging in and discovering that the taproot of the weed crowding out the flowering of our democratic life is the scourge of gerrymandering. “We need to fix our gerrymandered democracy”, declared Lee Rafalow, a North Carolinian UU. He went on to say that it's clear that incumbent legislators of the majority party continue to pick their voters rather than the voters picking their legislators. This is not a partisan issue; both parties are guilty. The consensus is that this has to stop.

Another UU, David Sokal, has been researching gerrymandering and presented his findings at a Duke-sponsored adult education course (OLLI at Duke) in March. He will present an updated summary at Eno River UU Fellowship on Wednesday, May 10th, at 7pm (public invited). People who have been working with YouCanVote.org and other activities will set the course for current and future action. Many UUs in North Carolina joined with YouCanVote.org last year to get people registered and out to vote. They are now calling voters to raise awareness about gerrymandering and to encourage people to contact their state legislators to enact a non-partisan redistricting process.

For more information, phone script, and training materials, go to: http://www.youcanvote.org

Congregation Liaisons for the Justice Ministry Network:

As many of you may know, Rev. Saxon (Lead UU minister in Raleigh), sent a letter to UU ministers in North Carolina announcing not only his support for strengthening this UU Justice Ministry Network of ministers and congregations, but his intention to join the leadership of making that happen. This is a welcome development that moves forward the possibility of ministers, congregations and lay leaders working together in the name of justice.

One of the first tasks we are undertaking is recruiting one or two members from each UU congregation to become Congregational Liaisons who will be vital links between their congregation and the Network. If you are interested in representing your congregation in this way, please contact Doug Rhodes at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

The task of the Congregation Liaison is to function as a two-way channel of communication between the congregation and the Network about the congregation's justice priorities, successes and challenges. We anticipate no Liaison meetings or lengthy conference calls. A guesstimate of the time involved might amount to less than an hour each month. Our ideal objective of having two liaisons per congregation is to minimize the time commitment and perhaps tap into additional insights and skills that will strengthen the congregation and network relationship.

The names of UUs who have stepped forward, so far:

Chapel Hill

            The Community Church of Chapel Hill Congregational Liaison:            Ginger Long

Charlotte

            Piedmont UU Church         Congregational Liaison:          Bill Crowley

UU Church of Charlotte  Congregational Liaison:  Mike O’Sullivan

                  

Davidson

            UU Fellowship of Lake Norman   Congregational Liaison:           Amy Hartman

                       

Durham

            Eno River UU Fellowship  Congregational Liaison:           Doug Rhodes

Greenville

            UU Congregation of Greenville    Congregational Liaison:  Sandy Shepard

                       

Hendersonville

            UU Fellowship Hendersonville    Congregational Liaison: Charlotte Corrigan

   Carole Repici

Hillsborough

            UU Congregation of Hillsborough           Congregational Liaison: Michael Garner

                                                                                                            Chris Larsen

Morehead City

            Unitarian Coastal Fellowship       Congregational Liaison:  Miriam Green

           

New Bern

            UU Fellowship of New Bern          Congregational Liaison: Fred Pittenger 

Raleigh

            UU Fellowship of Raleigh Congregational Liaison: Jim VanKirk

                      Jessica Lin

Seven Springs

            Outlaw’s Bridge Universalist Church      Congregational Liaison: Robert Stolar

Tryon            

            Thermal Belt UU Fellowship   Congregational Liaison: Robbie Bietk 

           

Wilmington

            UU Fellowship of Wilmington       Congregational Liaison: Eden Avery

           

Winston-Salem

            UU Fellowship of Winston Salem            Congregational Liaison: Jim Norris

Thank you all for joining our team. More Congregational Liaisons will be announced as we move forward.

Immigration and Sanctuary:

The UU Fellowship of New Bern has organized a multi-denominational collaboration of individuals and groups that is dedicated to protecting and aiding refugees and immigrants associated with their status within the country, and to support in a visible and vocal way their vital presence within the US economy. The group is called SAFE_ ENC. The ENC part has to do with eastern North Carolina. They are providing Power of Attorney Clinics in collaboration with the NC Justice Center and the Pro Bono Resource Center. From the very beginning these partnering efforts have been in great demand as the clients are very afraid about what will happen to their citizen children.

Members of UUFNB in New Bern are working with members of other denominations in New Bern, and are collaborating with UU members Unitarian Coastal Fellowship (Morehead City), UU Congregation of Greenville, and the UU Fellowship of Wilmington

The goals of SAFE_ENC are fourfold. 

1. To prevent detentions by Know Your Rights campaigns, and to support the immigrant/refugee people and their families during ICE detentions to make sure they receive just and equal treatment under the law. 

2. To actively educate ourselves and the immigrants and refugees involved about Evolving immigration Policy so that our support to them is effective and timely, and their fears are minimized.

3. To educate the broader community about how valuable the immigrant/refugee people are to our culture and economy and the importance of supporting their presence in America.

4. To strongly advocate for comprehensive immigration reform providing an open avenue for all reasonably vetted undocumented workers to gain legal status with visas to work and live in the USA. 

If you would like to know more about this project, contact Fred Pittenger at UUF of New Bern or Doug Rhodes.

A Celebration of Those Who Have Served

There is the risk for some of us who volunteer our leadership within our congregations and beyond to feel that recognition of our service vanishes, once we step down. Although it is likely that hardly any of us knew Pauly Richardson, this note to members of the UU Church of Charlotte from The Reverend Jay Leach, Lead Minister, honors the dedicated contributions she made. Our volunteer organizations depend on that same dedication and love for our respective communities. It is certain that Ms. Richardson knew she was appreciated and loved. We might take a moment to convey that same appreciation to those with whom we toil for justice. Let’s not wait until they step down.

 Rev. Jay Leach:

Dear UUCC Members,

 I write to inform you of the death of our member Pauly Richardson.  Those with longer tenure in the congregation will recall Pauly as an active leader here.  She served the UUCC as our President in 1988 - 89. 

Though she has been unable to be active here in recent years, when I arrived Pauly still played an important role in our Women's Alliance and was a regular attendee of our Sunday services.  She was kind and witty with a clear capacity to express her mind with clarity and conviction.   

We give thanks for the life of Pauly Richardson and honor her devoted leadership to the UUCC.

The Reverend Kenneth Gordon Hurto steps down as Lead Executive for the UUA's Southern Region. It continues to amaze some of us to know someone who served our ministry for over 45 years. Rev. Hurto did this in a variety of parish settings in Indiana, Iowa, Wyoming, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Florida, and in New Zealand and Australia. He also served in the UUA’s Department of Ministry, chaired the Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association CENTER (continuing education) committee, and served as Vice-President of the UUMA.

Since 2006 he has been a member of the Southern Region Congregational Life consulting team. His Southern Region responsibilities include serving as the Lead Executive for the Region and coordinating Transitions for our congregations’ religious professionals.

After such a lengthy period of service, one might be forgiven if someone were to apply the term “retirement” to Kenn’s decision that will culminate in June. We would, of course, be wrong. There is much more of Rev. Hurto that we need. So, our hope is that more thinking, more writing, and more ministering will bring this man to our attention and for our lasting benefit. Thank you, Kenn, so very much.

Here is a recent observation by Rev. Hurto about our UU task, given the current partisan environment:

“In our work with congregational leaders, my team and I teach the importance of differentiation — the ability to clearly state your values and your life direction, while staying connected to those who see life differently. Central to our way of being religious is valuing many pathways to the truth and the sacred. We are defined by an open-minded, large-hearted engagement with one another. It is a spiritual discipline to stay connected when deeply held values are at risk. Easier to cut and run, or to push out those with whom we disagree. That’s what makes being a Unitarian Universalist a challenge and a discipline.”

Shared on January 18, 2017, The Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr.

Kenn is a graduate of Augustana College (A.B., philosophy; Rock Island, IL) and from the Divinity School, cum laude, at Harvard University. His professional studies include work in Transactional Analysis and depth study in Bowen Family Systems Theory. Rev. Hurto says it was a privilege to be mentored by Rabbi Dr. Edwin H. Friedman.

 

Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry

Of North Carolina

Update: March 25, 2017

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

It is not quite an exaggeration to suggest that events in our nation’s capital have nearly sucked the oxygen out of combatting justice challenges here at home.  The truth, of course, is that everything is related. The mounting fear is that the machinations by our “statesmen and women” (quotation marks are currently in fashion) will have a direct effect on each of us and our neighbors who are at escalating risk, and that the march of injustice moves down our very streets. We alternate between disbelief, anger, and risk growing cynicism.

The good news is an increasing number of citizens in North Carolina are coming together, forming organizational partnerships and forging or strengthening alliances to place lawmakers in Washington and in Raleigh on notice that their decisions resulting in added danger and hardship to citizens will come at a very high price. The methods advanced by Indivisible, NAACP-NC, our own UUA and UUSC, The Council of Churches, Democracy NC, and many others are grounded in our shared values; their strategies and actions are logical and practical, and are within the reach of even the most timid but committed person.

The really good news is that this broad movement is growing beyond our grief stages that began even before November and is not predicated on a single issue; it is built upon the foundation of human dignity and caring. The issues are interwoven and can no longer be pulled apart. If a weakness can be found, it has to do with individuals, organizations, and congregations stepping back into the shadows, rather than stepping forward and leading.

The issues are many. It is difficult or nearly impossible to rank their significance or their immediacy. Several topics are summarized here in the hope that if you or your organization would like to join others in solidarity that you will let us know.

Gerrymandering in North Carolina:

"...redistricting today has become the most insidious practice in American politics - a way ... for our elected leaders to entrench themselves in 435 impregnable garrisons from which they can maintain political power while avoiding demographic realities." (Robert Draper, The Atlantic, 10/12)

We North Carolinians, of course, might add to that number of impregnable garrisons protecting “with surgical precision” a majority of our state-level districts.

Recognizing that the long road leading to a nonpartisan redistricting outcome appears daunting, a common destination is being shared by visible and influential secular and faith-based organizations. A new network within North Carolina is emerging that will link arms with Democracy NC and Americans United to give the issue statewide visibility and provide orientation and training sessions about what individuals and organizations can do to work toward a just conclusion.

Initial planning is currently underway. If you or your congregation or organization would like to be kept informed about developments that will begin in the fall, let us know. Stay tuned.

The UU Sanctuary Movement:

 

A number of UU congregations in North Carolina are exploring how their Justice Ministry mission can embrace the solidarity and sanctuary issue with their exploration of efforts already underway to deal with immigrant and refugee explorations. What they are beginning to see is that what was once thought to be relatively separate efforts are actually intertwined and nearly indistinguishable from one another.

UU congregations in North Carolina are approaching this subject with caution due to the threats and implied threats by presumed authorities to challenge current tax arrangements for religious institutions as well as vulnerability to arrest. Each is searching for a responsible path to sanctuary status. Several begin by searching for a definition of Sanctuary. They ask the usual UU question: “What are we called to do, given our Principles and our mission?” They seek to know the progressive steps to a fulsome expression of Sanctuary within homes and on church property. What steps within current comfort zones might then be extended as confidence and experience is gained? What is the appropriate mix of expedition and prudence? How do we bring our congregants along? What are the “Rules of the Road”? Recognizing that the concept of Sanctuary may have many levels, are their credible “Shades of Sanctuary”? How can we encourage and support the resistance by our local city and village councils and police against the intimidation by immigration officials who are requiring unconstitutional and expensive and immoral use of town facilities to separate parents from children at our schools and public facilities?

Hannah Hafter, the Senior Program Leader for Action at UUSC in Boston, contacted this UU Justice Ministry North Carolina Network as a “reach out” on this subject. She is working on a joint UUA-UUSC campaign about “Expanding Sanctuary” – community-based protections and policies for all threatened under this federal government edict. The group is doing some exploratory info-gathering to try to learn more about the lay of the land in terms of grassroots campaigns focused on sanctuary, immigrant justice, racial justice and allied issues campaigns locally - and the current and potential scope for UU involvement.

Hannah, a native of North Carolina, wanted to know what UU congregations in North Carolina are currently doing and what kind of support might be helpful. She also noted that she has had recent contact with some immigrant-led and Muslim-led grassroots groups in North Carolina that would be interested in connecting more with UUs to work together. If you or your congregation are interested in this kind of working relationship, please let us know.

Hannah did not come empty handed. Perhaps, some of you already know about and have studied their Congregational Action Guide. It even has a link to a place where you can order welcoming your neighbor signs! http://uucsj.org/tools-for-sanctuary-solidarity/

There is also a webinar that is an intro to “solidarity and sanctuary” they encourage groups to watch together with others in their congregation as a starting place for action. Check it out.  If you think it’s appropriate, bring a group together to kick off a conversation. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYCoXNmIVuE

Opposition To HB 161 Protect Our Freedom To Protest In North Carolina:

This Bill made it through Committee on Wednesday and now goes to the House, where it is expected to pass, and in the Senate as well.  Governor Cooper will likely veto it, but it can easily be overridden, given the supermajorities in both the House and Senate.

The petition below is being circulated by the local Triangle Chapter of Jewish Voice for Peace.

The Petition states:

“We are North Carolinians of conscience who oppose House Bill 161, “Divestment From Companies that Boycott Israel,” which was introduced in the North Carolina General Assembly in February.

This bill would prohibit companies from taking conscientious stands on how they conduct business by punishing those who take part in the international movement to boycott, divest from, and sanction the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestinian lands. The North Carolina bill unconstitutionally limits the free speech of advocates for Palestinian human rights.

Legislators are introducing bills in at least 18 states limiting the right to protest, and this bill is part of a campaign to shield those in power from principled opposition. The bill calls this nonviolent movement “economic warfare” and is part of a broader pattern of criminalizing People of Color led justice movements.

We appreciate that some legislators are interested in challenging anti-Semitism; we believe these people would do well to challenge anti-Semitism in the context of racism, Islamophobia, and xenophobia, rather than attacking a movement in which many Jews participate.

We join together to condemn this repressive tactic of silencing free speech and prohibiting protest, and we call on our State Legislators to reject this bill.”

Organizations:

Jewish Voice for Peace – Triangle NC

Youth Organizing Institute (Durham)

Quaker House of Fayetteville NC

Triangle Showing Up For Racial Justice

Coalition for Peace with Justice (Chapel Hill)

Muslims for Social Justice (Raleigh)

Black Workers for Justice

North Carolina Public Workers Union – UE Local 150

Muslim American Public Affairs Council (MAPAC)

Movement to End Racism and Islamophobia (MERI)

Standing on the Side of Love Ministry at Community Church of Chapel Hill Unitarian Universalist

Justice Ministry Council of Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

Triangle Unity May Day Coalition

Abrahamic Initiative on the Middle East (AIME)

Muslim Women of the Carolinas

Balance & Accuracy in Journalism

New South Progressives (Charlotte)

NC United for Refugees and Immigrants

North Carolina Council of Churches

Just like our HB2 dead rabbit around our necks, this isn’t just about Palestine and Israel. It is about protest and dissent. “… first they came for… and then…”

Die-In About Healthcare:

As you know, the Trump/Ryan health care bill was pulled from the House agenda on Friday. Yesterday, while Senator Burr was speaking at a Health Sector Advisory Council private meeting on the Duke Campus, a new grassroots organization, Protecting Progress in Durham, hosted a “die-in” demonstration at the entrance to the JB Duke Hotel.  Participants spoke, brought their tombstones to tell Senator Burr what the consequences will be, if the ill-formed and ill-fated Trump/Ryan Health bill ever sees the light of day or becomes the law of the land.

Seeking Congregational Liaisons To This Justice Ministry Network:

The mission of this statewide UU Justice Ministry is to provide a faith-based means for strengthening our justice programs at the congregational level, foster communication and common cause among UU congregations in our state, and to be a resource for events, public policy and legislative information and contact with partner organizations that share our values and priorities.

The good news is that increasingly, we are doing things together. We share buses. We march together. We look for those yellow tee shirts and the sound of UU drums during demonstrations. The not-so-good-news is that we rarely communicate with each other. We find ourselves preoccupied with our own projects and don’t reach beyond our parking lots to connect with other UU leaders.

This Network seeks to establish this vital connection. We are 35 congregations strong plus several emerging congregations that are beginning to take shape.

Jessica Lin of UU Fellowship in Raleigh and Elizabeth Thompson of Unitarian Universalists of Transylvania County (Brevard) are working with Doug Rhodes, Eno River UU Congregation to contact each UU congregation in North Carolina seeking Network Liaisons who will be a vital congregational contact with the Network and can be helpful as we continue to shape this ministry and find effective ways for serving our collective Justice Ministry needs and interests.

If you would like to become a liaison for your congregation and contribute your ideas and wisdom to this project, please contact Doug Rhodes, below.

Parting Shot:

The Enlightenment thinker, Voltaire, in “Candide” posed the argument that neither the world gets better nor that it’s all for naught; it’s that happiness is where you find it, and you find it first by making it yourself. The famous injunction to “cultivate our garden” means just that: make something happen, often with your hands. Getting out to make good things happen beats sitting down and thinking big things up, but in the end, doing nothing.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. If you would like to unsubscribe or added to this Newsletter list, please contact Doug.

 

Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina

Update: March 24, 2016

ERRATUM

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

The Other March Madness    Wait, it gets worse! Today at the UU Fellowship of Raleigh 5:45 pm

Imagine my surprise this morning reading the New York Times. Coffee was spilled and a more careful inspection of my computer screen, told no lies. My mistake – The onerous deed in Raleigh has been done – had already been done. I couldn’t believe it.

This is how the New York Times started its article:

“North Carolina legislators, in a whirlwind special session on Wednesday, passed a wide-ranging bill barring transgender people from bathrooms and locker rooms that do not match the gender on their birth certificates.

Republicans unanimously supported the bill, while in the Senate, Democrats walked out in protest. “This is a direct affront to equality, civil rights and local autonomy,” the Senate Democratic leader, Dan Blue, said in a statement.

North Carolina’s governor, Pat McCrory, a Republican, signed the bill late Wednesday night.

The session, which was abruptly convened by Republican lawmakers on Tuesday, came in response to an antidiscrimination ordinance approved by the state’s largest city, Charlotte, last month. That ordinance provided protections based on sexual orientation, gender expression and gender identity, including letting transgender people use the public bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity, not gender at birth.

The state bill, put together so quickly that many lawmakers had not seen it before it was introduced Wednesday morning, specifically bars people in North Carolina from using bathrooms that do not match their birth gender, and goes further to prohibit municipalities from creating their own antidiscrimination policies. Instead, it creates a statewide antidiscrimination policy — one that does not mention gay and transgender people. The bill also prohibits local governments from raising minimum wage levels above the state level — something a number of cities in other states have done.

Whether to allow transgender people access to bathrooms based on gender identity has touched off a national debate, and actions in recent weeks had appeared to turn in favor of that access. Earlier this month, South Dakota’s Republican governor vetoed a bill banning access. A similar bill failed in Tennessee this week.

“North Carolina has gone against the trend,” said Sarah Preston, the executive director for the North Carolina office of the American Civil Liberties Union. “And they crafted a bill that was more extreme than others. They specifically left gays, lesbians and the transgender community out of the antidiscrimination policy. They want to make it plain that they think that kind of discrimination is O.K.”… The article continues, but you get the drift.

Is it alarmist on my part to suggest that this is how human rights are taken away?

When our attention and stress of the day diverts us, our progress and dignity as a people are whittled away.

Yes, of course. There is already push back, after the damage has been done.

If I were a corporate relocation scout, I would cut North Carolina off even the long list of possibilities. If I were an officer at SAS or other corporations, I would already have convened an officer meeting and given out telephone numbers of House members to call.

What is amazing to my sensibilities is that we citizens will take action in protest and in our vote…in November. Between now and then, however, we need to reach out to corporations and our newspapers to do their part. They have the immediate power to change the law. It is plainly bad for business.

Think of it. This, and I’ll say it, this Republican legislature has severely damaged our education system – secondary and higher education – damaged the lives of our brother and sister Carolinians with callous decisions about health care and Medicaid, subverted city ownership of public utilities, damaged our state democracy with restrictive voting laws, and reduced taxes for the wealthy – and that is only a short list. I’m out of breath and patience.

Moral Monday Marches take on new meaning and urgency. But, I must say, more needs to be done. We UUs need to extend our reach to our communities and to raise our voices in the public square. We need Statements of Immediate Witness.

There is a lot of work that we need to DARE to do.

We need your voice! Join us on Thursday, March 24th, at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh at 3313 Wade Ave in Raleigh for a rally for LGBT rights. The rally will start at 5:45pm and will go until 7pm. This will be an opportunity to stand with your friends and family to show your opposition to the blatant attacks on the LGBT community by the NCGA.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina

Update: October 2015

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 Picture This: Peter Morales wearing his Panama hat and his bright yellow “Standing On The Side Of Love” stole, marching in the lead at the right of The Reverend William Barber II on a hot July day in Winston-Salem. Many of you who were there remember that day. Our UUA president and you showed up.

 If you want to see that picture, check out the NAACP-NC website (www.naacpnc.org). You will see Morales in one of the prominent slides on the home page.  It is inspirational every once in a while to monitor the NAACP-NC website and that of the Council of Churches. It informs us about what other organizations and congregations are doing and publicly advocating, and urging their members to show up. There are, of course, other interfaith and secular organizations that also inform and inspire. They, too, are important justice partners.

 Rev. Morales showed up for a cause in solidarity with the NAACP and others about citizen rights to vote in North Carolina. As a Unitarian Universalist leader, Rev. Morales was also sending a message to the rest of us that being present and giving voice to our Principles and core values is transformative both for the people for whom we advocate, and, surprisingly, for ourselves.

 Justice Practice: The Portland UU congregation understands that their first Justice priority is to inspire personally transformative growth in its members – by serving in the community. The primary focus of Justice is on us. That’s what this challenge is all about.

 Far too often, we hear or know about justice work, tasks, or events that are starved for volunteer leadership and participation. Although there is likely a natural lifecycle for projects and their leadership, it may also be the case that we have the cart before the horse. Perhaps our focus is on the work without prior attention to the spiritual change that comes from doing Justice Work.

 A new term is making its way into our justice lexicon. Instead of Justice Work, greater attention is increasingly being given to our Justice Practice. Although it will take some time to get accustomed to it, this shift, born in North Carolina, will take its rightful place next to references to our spiritual practice and our practice of generosity.  It helps to distinguish our efforts from secular justice organizations. That’s what makes what we do a Justice Ministry.

 To do this, we need the continued insight and leadership of our clergy. Our lay partnership with them helps us find the words and the will and the energy and the passion to practice our justice service that seeks to transform lives, including our own.

 What Would Jesus Do?: In mid-October, the Reverend Barber reacted to the “I Stand With God Pro-Family” rally held in Raleigh. He recounted that speakers, brandishing Bibles, claimed the country had lost touch with biblical values, decried abortion and marriage equality for gay Americans. Even our Lt. Gov. Dan Forest spoke saying that government is not the solution but implored demonstrators who claim Christianity to “get involved in politics.”

 Rev. Barber’s public rejoinder and the purpose here is not to denigrate the belief systems of others. It is important, however, to keep one foot squarely on the ground. Barber noted that Jesus never once mentioned the allegedly moral issues touted by Huckabee, Forest and their admirers as the centerpiece of faith. Instead Jesus’ first sermon placed Jesus firmly on the side of the poor. In his final sermon, Jesus once again placed himself at the feet of the poor, the sick, the hungry and the prisoners, urging his followers to focus on the needs of those who are hurting. “Inasmuch as you have done it unto the least of these who are members of my family,” Jesus declared, “you have done it unto me.”

 Consider These Figures*:

 261,40      Number of families with children in North Carolina living in poverty in 2013-2014

124,900    Number of families with children in North Carolina living in deep poverty in 2013-2014 (Half the Federal definition)

429           Amount in dollars of national median benefit to low-income families under TANF

272           Amount in dollars benefit to North Carolina low-income families under TANF

250,000    Number of people unemployed in North Carolina in December 2014

8               Rank of North Carolina among the 50 states for the lowest percentage of poor families with children receiving TANF benefits

 *Data from Temporary Assistance for Needy Families website. (TANF) 

What Do We Do?: Every week, we strengthen our justice practice by feeding and building relationships with the poor and the maligned. We tutor. We work to establish human rights for farmworkers. We speak out about how fragile our democracy is. We take steps to spread the alarm that our planet is suffering the consequences of our habits and our industrial recklessness. We are ombudsmen for those who are intimidated or are unable to manage the system that is stacked against their hope and aspirations. At the end of those days, we are tired – maybe, drained of energy. We know in our hearts, however, that we moved something forward. We did something good. We learned something about what we did and something more about ourselves. In that small, but very important way, we, too, were changed. 

Some would say, transformed.

 

Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina

Update: September 2015

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

Pope Francis:

"I prefer a church which is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security.” "I do not want a church concerned with being at the center and then ends up by being caught up in a web of obsessions and procedures." "More than by fear of going astray, my hope is that we will be moved by the fear of remaining shut up within structures which give us a false sense of security, within rules which make us harsh judges, within habits which make us feel safe, while at our door people are starving and Jesus does not tire of saying to us, 'Give them something to eat.'"

Kind of heavy stuff, huh?

September is a time to celebrate the harvest; it is also the time to redouble our reach and renewed effort in the name of human justice. We all are dismayed by shootings in Oregon and elsewhere. We ponder mass migrations in the Middle East and Europe and the hunger, family dislocation, and yes, death, which is the result of man’s inhumanity. It is all too easy to become paralyzed as those realities wash over us.

As we continue our work here at home, we must act in our neighborhoods. We must speak out in our communities. We must find effective ways for holding our legislators accountable.

There’s Good News and Bad News: The good news is that what passes for a North Carolina legislative session is over. These statesmen can do no more damage. Some wags opine that it could have been worse. Others, who may be labeled optimists, might assess that our state did not move backward as far as we feared. But, backward, it nevertheless, is. The bad news is that our Governor has some deciding to do by the end of the month. We have every right to be concerned and every obligation to let him know the moral and ethical direction he needs to take.

House Bill 318 Protect NC Workers Act: (Don’t you love the names?) Gov. McCory will decide this month whether unemployed citizens in hard hit counties should be denied $30 per week in federal food stamp assistance (SNAP). This heartless attack by the legislature on its own citizens just never stops.

It’s important to note that NC’s Dept. of Health & Human Services (DHHS) has applied for and received waivers to the federal limitations to persons receiving these needed benefits – the most recent being this past July for seventy-seven (77) North Carolina Counties. The Bill on McCory’s desk will forbid the DHHS from seeking any such waivers in the future. By the way, North Carolina is the nation’s fifth (5th) hungriest state. Just sayin’.

It wasn’t too long ago that these statesmen and women made serious cuts to unemployment insurance, that some say represent the biggest cuts of that sort in US history. Then, there’s the continued refusal to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. And, now the General Assembly in its final days of its 2015 session intends to cut off Food Stamp assistance to over 100,000 North Carolina citizens. McCory must decide which part of his oath of office he will honor, if any.

There’s More: House 318 also would forbid local governments from ordering their police forces to de-emphasize or stop the enforcement of federal immigration laws. This refers to “Sanctuary City” provisions that are in place in many cities, including Charlotte.

Other Legislative Accomplishments In Brief:  

  1. Extended the sales tax to cover services such as car repairs, a burden on many families.
  2. Continued to cut the personal income tax, benefiting upper-income residents especially and depriving the state of even more revenue.
  3. Cracked down on undocumented immigrants by restricting the kinds of IDs they can use and forbidding cities from adopting so-called sanctuary status.
  4. Gave magistrates permission to opt out of performing same-sex marriages if they objected on religious grounds.
  5. Moved to restart capital punishment by lowering legal obstacles.
  6. Weakened a number of environmental regulations in their so-called Environmental Protection Act.
  7. Moved to privatize the state’s Medicaid program, over the protests of many patient advocates.
  8. Sought to move more funds dedicated to public education to charter schools.

There’s more, but it is hard to keep up.

Asheville Loses Control Over Its Water: Court of Appeals ruled unanimously against Asheville over control of its water system. As local UUs in that area know full well, this state takeover began in 2013 without consultation or compensation.

There seems to be a pattern that our state lawmakers continue to tell our cities how to do their business. First there was the little matter of the state seeking to take over the Charlotte airport authority. Then, the Asheville Water System, and now, they seek to control how cities manage and direct their law enforcement officers on the immigration matter.

By the way, wasn’t local control once an article of faith or a fundamental Conservative axiom?

Voting: Marches in the spring may have encouraged legislators back in June to add a “reasonable impediment” provision in the challenged law to avoid pending legal suits. It represented a clear victory for voting rights advocates, among whose ranks the Council of Churches and the NAACP-NC are proud to stand. But their objections and challenges remain to be settled. Demonstrations in Winston-Salem and elsewhere likely had an important effect as hearings began, although declaring complete victory may be premature. The judge has agreed to stay further proceedings in the case until after the 2016 presidential primary so the contending parties can assess the implementation of the voter ID law, including the “reasonable impediment” provision, and its impact on voters. UUs showed up in large numbers in marches, but we might do more.

What’s The Point of All This? This sad litany of events and pending bills are but a small list of happenings occurring right under our noses. We cannot respond to every policy slight against those whom we serve in the neighborhoods. But, we cannot be content limiting our service to providing shelter and food. We must advocate and enter the public debate. We must do both. Our challenge as lay and clerical leaders is to find ways of doing both. Will we be ready when a Ferguson happens near us? What is a good first step we might take?

Here’s The Thing:

As we begin our UU meetings, what if we lit our chalice and placed it in the window rather than on a table in front of us? Once, that welcoming candle in the window was a signal that this house was a safe harbor for African-Americans seeking freedom and hope. That signal of welcome and safety and hope, still fundamental in its original intention, welcomes LGTBQ populations, and now must welcome the poor and immigrants who seek that same safety and hope.

When we end our UU meetings, we often take one another’s hands in a circle for a benediction or a message of encouragement and oneness. What would happen if we, instead, held each other’s hands, but faced outward? What might we be saying to our community beyond our parking lot? What transformational message might we be saying to each other as we hold the other’s hand for strength and reassurance as we go forth to serve?

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: June, 2015

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

Moral Monday, July 13 in Winston-Salem – Be there!

Actions:

            10 am to 4 pm Workshops and Teach-ins at Goler Memorial African

Methodist Zion Church, 630 N. Patterson Avenue.

            5 pm March Begins at Corpening Plaza231 West First Street

The Time: Is Now

Many of you know that on July 13, the Federal Court begins the trial of NC NAACP v. McCrory, the voting rights case against Governor McCrory and North Carolina's voter suppression law.

We UUs will be there in force.

Here is what our UU Ministers here in North Carolina say. They are speaking out and urge us to join them:

Dear Friends,

Fifty years after Selma the fight for equal voting rights is still going on, and this summer a major battle is heating up in North Carolina. On July 13 the Federal Court in Winston-Salem, NC, will begin to hear the lawsuit that the North Carolina NAACP brought against Governor Pat McCrory (NC-NAACP v McCrory) to challenge the voter suppression law in North Carolina. This law is the first and worst since the US Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision, which gutted the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

The outcome will impact voting rights across the nation, and UUA President Rev. Peter Morales has accepted the invitation of NC-NAACP President Rev. William Barber to come to Winston-Salem for a Mass Moral Monday March for Voting Rights and Justice at 5pm on July 13.

We hope to build on the Moral Monday movement that has helped mobilize a broad coalition in our state, and also to begin to make real the faithful pledge that Unitarian Universalists made at the 50th anniversary events in Selma this year. We stand on the shoulders of giants like Jimmie Lee Jackson, Unitarian Universalists James Reeb and Viola Liuzzo, and countless justice warriors who have gone this way before us. We stand on the side of love, and on the side of justice. 

The schedule includes a welcome at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem on Sunday afternoon, July 12, and an ecumenical worship service at a local congregation at 6pm Sunday evening. Monday begins with a press conference at 8am, followed by teach-ins sponsored by the NAACP from 10-4. We’ll gather for the rally between 4 and 5, and the Mass Moral Monday March begins at 5pm. Please register here and to find details about transportation and housing.

Please plan to spend part of your summer making a difference in this important civil rights arena. Let us be emboldened by our faith. Let us dare to stand on the side of love.

Yours in faith,

The Rev. Lisa Romantum Schwartz, Minister

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Winston-Salem

The Rev. Robin Tanner, Lead Minister

Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church

The Rev. Deborah Cayer, Lead Minister

Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

The Rev. John L Saxon, Lead Minister

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh 

The Rev. Rod Debs, Minister

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Greenville

The Rev. Susan Archer, retired in Greensboro

The Rev. Ann Marie Alderman, Minister

Unitarian Universalist Church of Greensboro

The Rev. Dick Weston, retired in Chapel Hill

Minister Emeritus, Unitarian Universalist Church of Ventura, CA

The Rev. Patty Hanneman, Minister

Unitarian Universalist Church of Hillsboro

The Rev. Thom Belote, Minister

The Community Church of Chapel Hill, Unitarian Universalist

The Rev. Tom Rhodes, Retired

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh

The Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville

The Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Associate Minister

Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville

The Rev. Holly Lux Sullivan, Hospice Chaplain

The Rev. Dr. Xolani Kacela, Assistant Minister

Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

The Rev. Don Southworth, Executive Director

Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association

Tell our UUs at Winston-Salem that you are coming. RSVP here:

You can get more information here: http://uuasouthernregion.org/

    

Schedule & Registration:  http://uuasouthernregion.org/ncvotingmarch.html

Please register if you plan to come, ­so members of the Winston-Salem Fellowship can know how to plan and welcome you!

Here’s The Thing: Our ministers have spoken and will enter the public square to raise their voices and be present to witness for this fundamental voting right as citizens of our democracy. We UUs show up. We lay members can also be present, find our voice, and join in solidarity with the NC-NAACP, the NC Council of Churches, and congregations from all over our great state.

People from across the country – including many Unitarian Universalists – will be there to learn what they can do to build a powerful voting rights coalition in their own states. This is the second time in recent history that Unitarian Universalists from all over this country have converged on North Carolina to join in a Moral Monday March. The HKonJ in 2014 brought UUs and The Reverend Morales to Raleigh to shed the light of Justice on the injury our legislature inflicted on our freedom and our rights.

Show up for as much of the learning and demonstration march as you are able. Organize your car and bus pools. Bring a friend.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: February 21, 2015

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

Here’s Some Good News!:  The Historic Thousands On Jones Street (HKonJ) Annual March led by the NAACP-NC on Valentine’s Day, once again, brought thousands to our state capitol plaza. Too bad our state legislators were somewhere else. They, however, knew we were there. Standing On The Side Of Love shirts, congregation banners and vests were prominent. Even though there was no nationwide call by UUs to come to Raleigh, there was a minister from Seattle marching; there were very large UU contingents from DC and from Maryland, and perhaps elsewhere. Our own Rev. Carlton Smith from our Southern Region staff was there. There is no way to count our UU marchers. We can confidently say that there were many more than a few hundred UUs marching in solidarity with other faiths and organizations. They and we know that North Carolina is pivotal in restarting a progressive movement in this country. They and we know that we need inspiration and support from all UUs. They and we know that bending the Arc Toward Justice requires showing up – standing up – and speaking up.

Many UUs topped off their march, say nothing about warming up, by coming to the UU Fellowship of Raleigh for lunch and a workshop. Thanks to Ticie and Rev. Tom Rhodes, who organized this event, Adam Sotak from Democracy North Carolina led us though strategies and shared tips about developing productive relationships with legislators and how to arrange meetings with legislators. He didn’t stop there. He talked about the success of efforts to register voters last summer and about the current push calling on state legislators to implement online voter registration that half the states in the nation now have, including our neighbors of Georgia, Virginia, and even South Carolina. Democracy North Carolina is a non-partisan independent organization that has a distinguished history in North Carolina. Among their several program priorities this year is a Voter ID project. Sotak also encouraged us to publicize their Democracy Summer Program now in its 16th year. This is a full-time paid summer internship program. For more information about these and other programs, go to www.democracy-nc.org.

Thank you Ticie, Tom, and Rev. John Saxon for your hospitality and leadership. Coming to UUFR each year in the heart of our state capital – the center of public policymaking in our state – is a privilege and an opportunity for UUs to meet one another and reinforce our own resolve to move Forward Together, Not One Step Back.

­Here’s Some Miraculous News:  If you haven’t been reading the papers buried in the ice and snow, a miracle has apparently happened – There is no longer a need to study poverty in North Carolina. Under pressure from our state legislature, the UNC Board of Governors will soon close its Chapel Hill Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity. Apparently, the powers that be have determined, like voting rights and discrimination, the problem of poverty, work and opportunity in our state has been solved! Under the cloak of an alleged move to save money, their spear went to the heart of the matter to target Gene Nichol, the center’s director, who has consistently shown the harsh light of the reality on NC poverty, much to the anger of state politicians.

This is more than a mere street fight. Director and Professor of Law Nichols responded to the decision that will come this Friday by revealing that 18 percent of North Carolinians live in poverty – 25% of our kids, and 40% of our children of color. He says that a decade ago, North Carolina was in the middle of the national rankings, having the 26th highest rate among the states; now, we have “achieved” the 9th highest rate of poverty. Greensboro is America’s second-hungriest city; Asheville is ninth. Charlotte has the nation’s worst economic mobility. Our state leaders are unmoved. Don’t feel sorry for Gene Nichol. We need to redouble our collective efforts in partnership with other organizations to keep poverty a live and pressing issue in our state. Bill Friday, who created and supported this Center must wonder what is happening to his great public university and to the citizens it serves.

For more background about the Poverty Center, go to:

http://www.ncpolicywatch.com

http://www.newsobserver.com/2015/02/18/4565101_gene-nichols-response-to-recommendation.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

Council of Churches Legislative Seminar:  This seminar will be held on April 14 at Greenwood Forest Baptist Church in Cary. For those of us who can come, this is a treasured opportunity that happens once every two years. Here is an opportunity for people of faith to gain the information they need from leaders and thinkers to be knowledgeable about issues before the NC General Assembly. The cost including snacks and a box lunch is $15 for students, $25 for all others. This is a spirited and thought-provoking occasion. UUs are invited and very welcome. The workshop choices are like entering a candy store that you wish you owned: Higher education, the state of the judiciary, health care and Medicaid, gerrymandering, immigration, voting rights, privatizing public education, policies affecting the LGBTQ Community, and much more led by leaders with state-level recognition. Register on line at: http://www.ncchurches.org/2015/02/register-2015-legislative-seminar/

Pathways To Relatedness and Compassion: The murder of a Muslim family in Chapel Hill brought 10,000 Tar Heel students, faculty, and citizens to “The Pit” on campus with candles in a spontaneous act of solidarity with those who grieved and were horrified. The funeral, a few days later, had to be moved to a soccer field, because of the crowds of people of all faiths and no faiths to pay their respects and to stand with the Muslim community. Yes, UUs were there. The Rev. Carlton Elliott Smith, of our Southern Region, offered his hope that, “…we Unitarian Universalist congregations will become more intentional about our connections with those of other faiths. How empowering could it be for local Muslim congregations if churches and fellowships reached out and asked them, 'How can we help?' One way of honoring the slain would be to transform this tragedy into pathways leading to greater relatedness and compassion.”

Here’s The Thing: Each month, it seems, there are challenges to our UU values and sensitivities. Each month, we pause in dismay and disgust. And, each month, individual UUs step forward to join mourners, join marchers for justice, and dedicate precious time in our neighborhoods and shelters. These challenges test our Principles and our resolve.

Are these events teachable moments, not just for UUs within the safety of our sanctuaries, but might we venture forth into the public square and say something? Must we remain invisible and silent? How might we do that? As congregations, united by our Principles and progressive philosophy, how might our beacons of justice and love shine throughout our state?

UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina:  Over the next few months, the UU Legislative Ministry of North Carolina will become the UU Justice Ministry of North Carolina. This name change, similar to other UU organizations of this sort, will pursue a mission that embraces the practical job of improving our local justice programs along with encouraging action steps we all can take to engage state-level issues that concern us. The Justice ministry includes legislative awareness and action to be sure, but a more practical agenda has been encouraged by a number of you that includes finding effective ways of encouraging more of our members to become involved in justice work, strategies for funding justice programs, sharing information about issues, and working together in partnership with each other and with other organizations on projects and priorities that have a common interest. If you are interested in shaping this statewide Justice Ministry, contact Doug Rhodes.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

The Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: January 2015

 

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 

Opportunity Alert

Historic Thousands On Jones Street

Massive Moral March

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Valentine’s Day

Important Program

After the March

At the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh (UUFR)

A Call to March from Ticie and Tom Rhodes:

Dear Friends,

It was just over a year ago that approximately 1500 UUs from around the country gathered in Raleigh for the massive Moral March organized by the NAACP.  Those who attended remember the massive outpouring of love, support, and demands for justice that took place that weekend.

In that spirit, we are inviting UUs from NC, SC, and southern VA to join us for the 2015 Moral March that will take place in a few short weeks on Feb. 14th -- it's Valentine's Day, so bring a sweetie and share the Love!  Our plans are not as ambitious (for one thing, there is no nationwide call this year), but the need for economic, gender, and racial justice is no less than it was a year ago.

Gather the same place we did last year (400 S Blount St--remember, you can park there) between 9 and 9:30.  After the March, join us at UUFR for a $6 pizza lunch.  Afternoon programming will begin around 1:30, depending on when the Rally ends and people are fed.  The afternoon program, offered by Democracy NC, will focus on a variety of voting issues and how to engage productively with the NC General Assembly as well as your own local officials.  The program will be interactive and dynamic, pertinent, and offer information you can take home, share and use.  We expect to end around 4 pm.

If you are planning to come (or would like to receive future updates) please register at www.SurveyMonkey.com/s/2015MoralMarch.  Please feel free to forward this email and reproduce the attached flyer as appropriate.  Please share this information with your congregation on Sunday!

For more information see the NAACP-NC website at www.HKonJ.com

Forward Together -- Not One Step Back!

Ticie and Tom Rhodes

UU Fellowship of Raleigh

 

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

The Unitarian Universalist Justice Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: October/November 2014

 

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 

This UU Justice Ministry E-Newsletter dedicated to our state of North Carolina was delayed by the run-up to the mid-term elections and its aftermath. It was hoped that when the dust settled and our balance and footing had been regained, conditions would appear to be better. Well, they haven’t gotten better. It is important to entertain the possibility that they haven’t gotten worse. It may be that our “To Do” list of justice action continues to be overwhelmed by an overflowing list of Old Business that painfully re-emerges when we realize injustice rages from every point on the North Carolina compass. Our frustration comes when we believe we are unable to influence events or are somehow unable to take the initiative and take collective and partnering action. The accumulating Old Business of injustice rolls over our sensitivities, much like the incoming tide.

 

“Hands Up For Justice”: Through our collective window to the outside world, we peer out at events in Ferguson, Missouri, Cleveland, Ohio, Charlotte, and state capitals – pick a city far away or here at home – and our sensitivities, our consciences and our collective resolve to do something are rubbed raw. Through that same transparent window and that same vision, in the opposite direction, the community peers into our world to see what it is that we as a collective and progressive faith community will say and do.

 

We Do Speak And We Do Act. Our reaction to each outrage, each injustice moves us to action. We hope the response to each event: the killing of an unarmed teenager or a mentally disabled man on death row in Texas, will be the tipping point, small or robust, as it might be, that will bend the arc. Our sermons, our congregational newsletters, our multicultural Benevolent Conversations, and public vigils along with other faith communities and organizations encourage us to raise our voices and our “Hands Up For Justice”. Our UUA President’s statement at the announcement of the St. Louis County Grand Jury’s decision is a powerful voice. The Rev. Peter Morales reminds us of our 2013 Statement of Immediate Witness that urges us to action. He gave us a link to demonstrations around the country, many in Asheville, Charlotte, Carrboro, Greenville, Greensboro, Pittsboro, Raleigh, Rocky Mount, and elsewhere in North Carolina – some even led by Unitarian Universalists. http://www.uua.org/news/pressroom/pressreleases/299350.SHTML and http://www.Fergusonresponse.tumbler.com . We need to raise our own voices.

 

The Rev. William Barber of the NAACP-NC was more blunt in his address at the Pullen Memorial Baptist Church: “I knew that (this) was the right place to be (this evening). I wanted to be among members of a diverse community so that we can all see that these are not just Black people’s issues, but they are all of our issues. I wanted to be among members of diverse faiths, so that we can all see that Muslims care, Christians care, and the Jewish community cares, because when you’re hurting, the tendency is to retreat inward, to go into an isolation. I wanted to be among officers of the law, so that we know the difference between law enforcement officials who serve the people, and those who would hide their abusive actions behind the badge.” Rev. Barber teaches us lessons drawn from Ferguson. His call and his action inspire us to our own action. http://pulse.ncpolicywatch.org (Video and full statement also may soon be available at http://www.NAACPNC.org).

 

Here’s The Thing: Our public statements of conscience and our public leadership (or, its lack) does not go unnoticed by those whom we serve in solidarity in our neighborhoods. Our best personal work is done when we walk with those who have lost hope and feel oppressed, and seem to be forgotten by our system of democracy. We become true partners in relationship, when we, in the most authentic and forceful way, “share their pain” and raise our voices in love, not anger, and act in collective, not merely in isolated and invisible ways to bend that arc. That tipping point always needs an additional nudge. Even the smallest nudge might result in a small fraction of a one percent downward grade; justice will then “… roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.” (Amos 2:24).

 

Actions To Take: Our history from our very beginning, particularly as Unitarians, has been one of profound dissent. We are now called to become strategic planners and strategic advocates. We must add these two attributes to our ability to mobilize and demonstrate our displeasure in the streets. Earth Justice, Immigration Justice, Health Justice, and personal Human Rights Justice call us to act in an affirming and effective manner. The lessons of legitimate uses of power taught to us by Rev. Barber and Rev. Morales and the so-called social media need to be learned anew. We need to understand the difference between legitimate and illegitimate power that controls the narrative and defines reality. We need to embrace the predicate that comes through the power of love, ethical love, and moral love.  And, the power that comes with acting as one statewide faith community.

 

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: September, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

And So It Continues: This month, the new church year has begun in earnest. Old friends, first-time visitors, and new initiatives add to the pleasure and excitement and general craziness of our September return. For many UUs in North Carolina, there was no summer hiatus. We were showing up for the Moral Monday Marches all over our state; we were organizing and training UUs and neighbors about voter registration, and getting ready for a local Pride Fest. The vibes are telling us that we have new energy and resolve. The anger we once felt has been transformed to action.Rumpelstiltskin couldn’t have done it any better. As we continue to build this Legislative Ministry Network of UU congregations in our state, the information exchange and partnership among congregations and other organizations on issues that connect with our values and Principles will move us forward on our justice journeys.And So It Continues: This month, the new church year has begun in earnest. Old friends, first-time visitors, and new initiatives add to the pleasure and excitement and general craziness of our September return. For many UUs in North Carolina, there was no summer hiatus. We were showing up for the Moral Monday Marches all over our state; we were organizing and training UUs and neighbors about voter registration, and getting ready for a local Pride Fest. The vibes are telling us that we have new energy and resolve. The anger we once felt has been transformed to action. Rumpelstiltskin couldn’t have done it any better. As we continue to build this Legislative Ministry Network of UU congregations in our state, the information exchange and partnership among congregations and other organizations on issues that connect with our values and Principles will move us forward on our justice journeys.

 

Voter Registration:  Nearly every UU congregation polled this month has a group of members trained and walking their neighborhoods in search of people needing to register to vote. The work is now at a fever pitch, given that the deadline of October 10 is a mere two weeks away. These UU teams – many in partnership with other organizations and congregations – know that it doesn’t stop there. Early voting begins on October 23 and ends on November 1. In six weeks, we vote. In this great state, however, our voting day on November 4, begins at 6:30 am, and ends precisely at 7:30 pm. Getting those new registrants to the polls is no small effort. Follow up is needed. Rides are essential. Have them bring their kids to see the new NC democracy in action. Take their picture for their family history.

NC Pride Fest Parades: On Saturday, September 27, what may be the first Pride Parade this autumn will step off on the East Campus of Duke University. The Rev. Ruth Gibson says that our UU Float “Champions of Marriage Equality” will honor Mark Chilton, who has pledged to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once elected to the Orange County Register of Deeds; our own Rev. Ann Marie Alderman (note her We Do Campaign) and Rev. Robin Tanner, coordinator of the UU movement against the “Amendment”, Terry Schneider and Acey Tharrington for their advocacy, and Tracy Hollister, who has dedicated more than two years organizing and speaking truth to power about Marriage Equality. There are many more heroes from UU Fellowship of Raleigh, Eno River UU Fellowship, and Community Church of Chapel Hill and others too numerous to mention. Come in the morning. Make a day of it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Oh? We’ve succeeded already and don’t need to show up? Fancy this: North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger made headlines recently for suggesting that firing people from their jobs solely because they are gay is one of the “freedoms we enjoy” as Americans. - See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/09/18/how-long-will-being-gay-be-a-fireable-offense-in-north-carolina/#sthash.fxtxux6b.dpuf

Divestment:The Rockefellers are doing it. The news this week told us that the Oil Rich Rockefellers are beginning to divest their fossil fuel investments...with proper deliberate and fiduciary speed. The climate change demonstrations – all over the world – really, are an indication that global organization of ordinary people – citizens of this planet – are making their voices heard in the public square. We church leaders have worked hard adjusting personal and organizational portfolios to socially sensitive funds and equities. Doing so properly invites conversation about our fiduciary responsibilities and our values. The idea of divestment also properly invites conversation about the effect such acts may have on corporate policy and share values. The answer has to do with OUR values in solidarity with others. Support for companies that advance fuel alternatives and our collective actions represent affirmative steps in a long but urgent journey. What is your congregation doing?

Death Penalty: This month, Henry McCollum and brother, Leon Brown, have come home and are sleeping in their own beds after 31 and 25 years, respectively, spent on North Carolina’s Death Row. As you know, they were exonerated for the rape and murder of 11-year-old girl in 1983. At that time, Ronald Reagan was in his first term.

To the continued embarrassment of North Carolina, A New York Times editorial reported that: “Virtually everything about the arrests, confessions, trial and convictions of Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown was polluted by official error and misconduct.”

It is long past time that the rest of us join with UUs, already dedicated to abolishing capital punishment in this state. Many are connected with People of Faith Against the Death Penalty here in North Carolina. This is a national group that also works in our state. Go to the website:  ‪www.facebook.com/pfadp. There is plenty to do.

Get some friends together and have a 15-minute conversation with your local district attorney about his or her position on the death penalty. Be friendly, ask questions, and just listen. Go back in three months. Build a relationship. Same with your state senator and representative. Your sheriff. Your police chief. Your mayor.

Tell them that this year the National Academy of Sciences released a report concluding that one in every 25 people sentenced to death in our country is innocent. Ask them if overzealous or outright corrupt prosecutors should be punished.

Solar Panel Projects: The funding and installation of solar panels on the roofs of our facilities has emerged from, umm, the shadows. There appear to be several congregational projects contemplated or underway in our state to reduce utility costs and in support of earth-based renewable energy values. This is a complicated effort with its own financial up-front costs and tax implications. Once installed, however, satisfaction, pride of project, and savings are among the immediate benefits.

The current state tax credit authorization for this work ends in July 2015. Because this credit is authorized on a year-to-year basis, our hope is that the state will continue to offer the tax credit for 2016, and beyond.

If your congregation has moved forward on this possibility or is contemplating it, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., so that UU intersecting interests and insights can be productively shared across our state.

Action: Although there is no possibility right now for legislative relief regarding NC's death penalty, there are ways to build support for abolition and to support the families of those on death row.  This project is one of them.

 

The Eno River Unitarian Universality Fellowship's Task Force to Abolish the Death Penalty is organizing a project to give death row inmates support in strengthening family connections by honoring and appreciating their mothers with a modest gift next Mothers' Day. The ERUUF Task Force is looking for partners to help plan and implement the Mothers' Day 2015 Gift Project.  Inmates would choose a gift from several options to be mailed or delivered to the chosen recipient.  Family members of death row inmates often feel isolated and stigmatized, and this project provides much-needed support.  The project would especially benefit from support from congregations located in areas that have sent many inmates to death row (e.g., Forsyth Country, Mecklenberg County, and Wake County).  The Task Force has enlisted the help of the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and will reach out to other denominations to create a statewide team for this project.  

 

If you or your congregation is interested in helping or need additional information, please contact Candace Carraway at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here’s The Thing: The foregoing represents but a small part of our justice agenda. The complexity, the opportunity, and the importance of these and other justice issues have, perhaps, never been greater. There is this sense, though, that the tractability and promise of progress we can make may be tilting in our direction. The issue of education is on the minds of the electorate; pollution of our water system by Duke and the risk of fracking are gaining attention. So-called “women’s issues” are attracting increased attention – and not just by women. Minimum wage and immigration issues are emerging from the margins of our awareness. The Benevolent Conversations that some of us are having within our congregations are helping us understand the environment within which Black and Latino citizens in our state live. We become sensitive to the systemic elements of White Privilege – this time without guilt – but with sincere resolve to speak and act one with another and in the public square when intentional or inadvertent micro-aggressions are found.

This is not a Panglossian view. Voltaire’s tutor to Candide, Dr. Pangloss, never did the hard work of speaking truth to power. He never understood the courage it takes for individuals and congregations to take public positions in support of their values and Principles. UUs and people of other progressive faiths know full well the hard work that justice requires. We, collectively, must continue applying pressure for redress. We are at our greatest strength when we begin our public statements: “We, the ______ congregation or fellowship….” We are at our greatest strength when each of our congregations is publically listed and has joined with other organizations in the name of Justice.

As Voltaire concluded: We all need to cultivate our garden.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: September, 2014

 

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

And So It Continues:

This month, the new church year has begun in earnest. Old friends, first-time visitors, and new initiatives add to the pleasure and excitement and general craziness of our September return. For many UUs in North Carolina, there was no summer hiatus. We were showing up for the Moral Monday Marches all over our state; we were organizing and training UUs and neighbors about voter registration, and getting ready for a local Pride Fest. The

vibes are telling us that we have new energy and resolve. The anger we once felt has been transformed to action.Rumpelstiltskin couldn’t have done it any better. As we continue to build this Legislative Ministry Network of UU congregations in our state, the information exchange and partnership among congregations and other organizations on issues that connect with our values and Principles will move us forward on our justice journeys.

Voter Registration:  Nearly every UU congregation polled this month has a group of members trained and walking their neighborhoods in search of people needing to register to vote. The work is now at a fever pitch, given that the deadline of October 10 is a mere two weeks away. These UU teams – many in partnership with other organizations and congregations – know that it doesn’t stop there. Early voting begins on October 23 and ends on November 1. In six weeks, we vote. In this great state, however, our voting day on November 4, begins at 6:30 am, and ends precisely at 7:30 pm. Getting those new registrants to the polls is no small effort. Follow up is needed. Rides are essential. Have them bring their kids to see the new NC democracy in action. Take their picture for their family history.

NC Pride Fest Parades: On Saturday, September 27, what may be the first Pride Parade this autumn will step off on the East Campus of Duke University. The Rev. Ruth Gibson says that our UU Float “Champions of Marriage Equality” will honor Mark Chilton, who has pledged to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once elected to the Orange County Register of Deeds; our own Rev. Ann Marie Alderman (note her We Do Campaign) and Rev. Robin Tanner, coordinator of the UU movement against the “Amendment”, Terry Schneider and Acey Tharrington for their advocacy, and Tracy Hollister, who has dedicated more than two years organizing and speaking truth to power about Marriage Equality. There are many more heroes from UU Fellowship of Raleigh, Eno River UU Fellowship, and Community Church of Chapel Hill and others too numerous to mention. Come in the morning. Make a day of it. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Oh? We’ve succeeded already and don’t need to show up? Fancy this: North Carolina Congressman Robert Pittenger made headlines recently for suggesting that firing people from their jobs solely because they are gay is one of the “freedoms we enjoy” as Americans. - See more at: http://www.ncpolicywatch.com/2014/09/18/how-long-will-being-gay-be-a-fireable-offense-in-north-carolina/#sthash.fxtxux6b.dpuf

Divestment:The Rockefellers are doing it. The news this week told us that the Oil Rich Rockefellers are beginning to divest their fossil fuel investments...with proper deliberate and fiduciary speed. The climate change demonstrations – all over the world – really, are an indication that global organization of ordinary people – citizens of this planet – are making their voices heard in the public square. We church leaders have worked hard adjusting personal and organizational portfolios to socially sensitive funds and equities. Doing so properly invites conversation about our fiduciary responsibilities and our values. The idea of divestment also properly invites conversation about the effect such acts may have on corporate policy and share values. The answer has to do with OUR values in solidarity with others. Support for companies that advance fuel alternatives and our collective actions represent affirmative steps in a long but urgent journey. What is your congregation doing?

Death Penalty: This month, Henry McCollum and brother, Leon Brown, have come home and are sleeping in their own beds after 31 and 25 years, respectively, spent on North Carolina’s Death Row. As you know, they were exonerated for the rape and murder of 11-year-old girl in 1983. At that time, Ronald Reagan was in his first term.

To the continued embarrassment of North Carolina, A New York Times editorial reported that: “Virtually everything about the arrests, confessions, trial and convictions of Mr. McCollum and Mr. Brown was polluted by official error and misconduct.”

It is long past time that the rest of us join with UUs, already dedicated to abolishing capital punishment in this state. Many are connected with People of Faith Against the Death Penalty here in North Carolina. This is a national group that also works in our state. Go to the website:  ‪www.facebook.com/pfadp. There is plenty to do.

Get some friends together and have a 15-minute conversation with your local district attorney about his or her position on the death penalty. Be friendly, ask questions, and just listen. Go back in three months. Build a relationship. Same with your state senator and representative. Your sheriff. Your police chief. Your mayor.

Tell them that this year the National Academy of Sciences released a report concluding that one in every 25 people sentenced to death in our country is innocent. Ask them if overzealous or outright corrupt prosecutors should be punished.

Solar Panel Projects: The funding and installation of solar panels on the roofs of our facilities has emerged from, umm, the shadows. There appear to be several congregational projects contemplated or underway in our state to reduce utility costs and in support of earth-based renewable energy values. This is a complicated effort with its own financial up-front costs and tax implications. Once installed, however, satisfaction, pride of project, and savings are among the immediate benefits.

The current state tax credit authorization for this work ends in July 2015. Because this credit is authorized on a year-to-year basis, our hope is that the state will continue to offer the tax credit for 2016, and beyond.

If your congregation has moved forward on this possibility or is contemplating it, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., so that UU intersecting interests and insights can be productively shared across our state.

Action:Although there is no possibility right now for legislative relief regarding NC's death penalty, there are ways to build support for abolition and to support the families of those on death row.  This project is one of them.

The Eno River Unitarian Universality Fellowship's Task Force to Abolish the Death Penalty is organizing a project to give death row inmates support in strengthening family connections by honoring and appreciating their mothers with a modest gift next Mothers' Day. The ERUUF Task Force is looking for partners to help plan and implement the Mothers' Day 2015 Gift Project.  Inmates would choose a gift from several options to be mailed or delivered to the chosen recipient.  Family members of death row inmates often feel isolated and stigmatized, and this project provides much-needed support.  The project would especially benefit from support from congregations located in areas that have sent many inmates to death row (e.g., Forsyth Country, Mecklenberg County, and Wake County).  The Task Force has enlisted the help of the NC Coalition for Alternatives to the Death Penalty and will reach out to other denominations to create a statewide team for this project.  

If you or your congregation is interested in helping or need additional information, please contact Candace Carraway at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Here’s The Thing: The foregoing represents but a small part of our justice agenda. The complexity, the opportunity, and the importance of these and other justice issues have, perhaps, never been greater. There is this sense, though, that the tractability and promise of progress we can make may be tilting in our direction. The issue of education is on the minds of the electorate; pollution of our water system by Duke and the risk of fracking are gaining attention. So-called “women’s issues” are attracting increased attention – and not just by women. Minimum wage and immigration issues are emerging from the margins of our awareness. The Benevolent Conversations that some of us are having within our congregations are helping us understand the environment within which Black and Latino citizens in our state live. We become sensitive to the systemic elements of White Privilege – this time without guilt – but with sincere resolve to speak and act one with another and in the public square when intentional or inadvertent micro-aggressions are found.

This is not a Panglossian view. Voltaire’s tutor to Candide, Dr. Pangloss, never did the hard work of speaking truth to power. He never understood the courage it takes for individuals and congregations to take public positions in support of their values and Principles. UUs and people of other progressive faiths know full well the hard work that justice requires. We, collectively, must continue applying pressure for redress. We are at our greatest strength when we begin our public statements: “We, the ______ congregation or fellowship….” We are at our greatest strength when each of our congregations is publically listed and has joined with other organizations in the name of Justice.

As Voltaire concluded: We all need to cultivate our garden.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: May 29, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

To Maya Angelou: Because of you, we, too, rise.

She found her voice. May we now find ours.

You may have noticed that our North Carolina legislature is currently sitting in short session to admire their work of last year. This may be why their deliberations are labeled as a short session. ‘Nuf’ said – much more for us to do.

This is a tough time for the rest of us. We’re more than uncomfortable with the tension between the justice actions we need to take and the reality that at this time of year there are demanding activities requiring our attention as the school and congregation program year begins to close. Members we depend on to move our agendas forward are thinking more about GA, vacation, and the need to get away to restore their spirit.

UUFR in Raleigh Rally for Moral Mondays. A task group of eight UUFR members convened by Ticie and Tom Rhodes are making sure that the February 8 March becomes more than a Raleigh moment. They are calling themselves: The Moral Matters Task Force. They are inviting those UUs who signed up at the SSL website and others who joined the February March to mobilize in partnership with the NAACP of NC and other not-for-profit organizations to continue the March and meet with state legislators. The renewed effort began last Tuesday with a BYO lunch, training, and joining with others to meet with legislators and staffs. The link is here— http://www.naacpnc.org/

But, there is much, much more. They invite us to:

Attend one Education Demonstration (fully permitted/legal) at 16 W. Jones St with Public Schools First NC.  Hand out fact sheets on current issues in education, and engage with legislators and passers-by when you’re comfortable.  Bring a sign if you want.  Thursdays, 9-noon, from May 29 throughout the Short Session

Tell your mayor to END GERRYMANDERING!

Led by Richard Vinroot, Republican former mayor of Charlotte, and Charles Meeker, Democratic former mayor of Raleigh, North Carolinians to End Gerrymandering wants each of us to tell NC’s 546 mayors to call for an end to gerrymandering, and call Mayors Vinroot and Meeker at 919-833-0092 to pledge your support.

Join a wide variety of NC non-profits, on Lobby Day.  They ask: Can you join us and help keep the pressure on? Emails and phone calls always help – but a face-to-face meeting is priceless!  June 4th, 9 am - 2 pm (you do not need to stay the entire time) You must register online—

Clean up Coal Ash Lobby Day with NC Conservation Network and Sierra Club— http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/LobbyDay

Expand Medicaid with Planned Parenthood & NARAL — https://docs.google.com/forms/d/193sbeTXvPnrNAuoiZLgNFPnNzW03eEu5m23Zxy8VMNs/viewform

Join NC Conservation Network for a workshop for volunteers and potential leaders.  At this event you'll hear from environmental-minded local leaders, learn how to make positive changes in your local community, and explore how to go from concerned citizen to service on a board or commission.


What: Environmental Action: What You Can Do!


When: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, June 3, 2014


Where: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Raleigh, 3313 Wade Ave., Raleigh


Cost: FREE, refreshments will be provided. *Pre-registration is required for this event*
 

For more information or to register please visit: http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/page/s/Raleigh2014  
 For questions, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone: 919.857.4699 x104.

Who says that we North Carolina UUs are sitting back sipping our sweet tea?

 

 

 

 

 

Community Church of Chapel Hill Hosts Holly Near In Concert and Voting Rights Presentation by Former N.C. Senator Ellie Kinnaird,June 19, 2014. This event is nearly sold out. The interest and the opportunity are great. The event begins at 5:30 with Senator Kinnaird, then a simple supper, and the concert begins promptly at 7:30. Tickets to the concert are $25 and can only be secured online. Go to the Community Church website, http://www.C3HUU.org, click on Upcoming Events, and use the secure Paypal process. 

Do not temporize; this event may be sold out.

 

 

 

Community Church Calls Rev. Thom Belote as their Minister.  On Sunday, May 4th, the congregation voted to call Rev. Thom Belote as their settled minister.  Thom will begin his ministry on August 11th. There is so much about Rev. Belote to tell, from feeling his first call to the ministry at age 15 (understanding then how our faith has the power to change lives) to his studies at Reed College, Phi Beta Kappa, studying abroad and study at Harvard Divinity School. During his studies, he worked on the UUA’s anti-racism programs and was selected by Rev. John Buehrens as his student minister. At age 25, Thom began his ministry at the Shawnee Mission UU Church, outside Kansas City. To say that the Community Church members are delighted is an understatement – delirious – more closely approaches their excitement. Hold on to your hats.

Challenging the Constitutionality of Amendment One. Although many of us know that many efforts are underway to “undo” the damage of Amendment One, news was shared that another federal challenge has been filed on April 28 in North Carolina’s Western District on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination, clergy from across faith traditions, and same-sex couples who seek to marry.

The news article carried by www.DeepSouthProgressive.com begins by saying that “North Carolina Clergy challenge the Gay Marriage Ban, citing religious freedom.” Religious leaders, they say, are using the First Amendment to challenge Amendment One, which violates their religious freedom to conduct the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples in their congregations.

The list of North Carolina minister plaintiffs contained several ministers from United Church of Christ congregations, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Charlotte), and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. And, guess what? The list also included two UU North Carolina ministers: Our own Rev. Robyn Tanner, Piedmont UU Congregation (Charlotte) and Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister of UU Congregation of Asheville, and Carol Taylor and Betty Mack, a couple of 41 years, who attend UUC of Asheville. Sweet.

Tip of the Month: Local Congregational Facebooks Are Becoming Justice Facebooks. This is more than a straw in the wind. Until recently, congregational Facebook pages were no different from others. Sure, they build virtual communities of friends, with cozy pictures of vacations, pets, anniversaries, and maybe, some gossip. But, something has changed. Good and fun as those family pics are, they are increasingly being joined by Justice news, complaints, issues and concerns, and opportunities. Pictures and brief videos of the February 8 March seemed to be among the first noticeable entries. Then, meeting notices and sign up alerts and quotations and “likes and comments” followed. This is new stuff. It is as if congregational Facebooks are evolving from the cute and kind of adolescent stage, and are finding new purpose.

It is hoped that the fun candid pictures never are crowded out. The blend is what is so magnificent. For some of you sophisticated types, the question might be, “So, what’s so new?” What may be new is that more people are thinking that this mode of communication might be a good one to express their social justice thoughts. What’s new is that North Carolina UU Justice Councils might join with entries of their own about justice concerns and opportunities. Is it possible that there may be a larger constituency within our own congregations, who process information in this way, rather than skimming the somewhat passive monthly (Did I say monthly?) newsletters? As UUs discover and reach out to a younger set of families, who are diverse in nature, but having common concerns and values, how might our local Justice programs connect and engage them in this way and enrich their spiritual journey in the bargain? Let the Justice conversation within a much wider circle of friends begin. Can Twitter and Tweets serving a social justice purpose be far behind?

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe, be added to this Newsletter, or contribute news of events and initiatives, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: May 29, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

To Maya Angelou: Because of you, we, too, rise.

She found her voice. May we now find ours.

You may have noticed that our North Carolina legislature is currently sitting in short session to admire their work of last year. This may be why their deliberations are labeled as a short session. ‘Nuf’ said – much more for us to do.

This is a tough time for the rest of us. We’re more than uncomfortable with the tension between the justice actions we need to take and the reality that at this time of year there are demanding activities requiring our attention as the school and congregation program year begins to close. Members we depend on to move our agendas forward are thinking more about GA, vacation, and the need to get away to restore their spirit.

UUFR in Raleigh Rally for Moral Mondays. A task group of eight UUFR members convened by Ticie and Tom Rhodes are making sure that the February 8 March becomes more than a Raleigh moment. They are calling themselves: The Moral Matters Task Force. They are inviting those UUs who signed up at the SSL website and others who joined the February March to mobilize in partnership with the NAACP of NC and other not-for-profit organizations to continue the March and meet with state legislators. The renewed effort began last Tuesday with a BYO lunch, training, and joining with others to meet with legislators and staffs. The link is here— http://www.naacpnc.org/

But, there is much, much more. They invite us to:

Attend one Education Demonstration (fully permitted/legal) at 16 W. Jones St with Public Schools First NC.  Hand out fact sheets on current issues in education, and engage with legislators and passers-by when you’re comfortable.  Bring a sign if you want.  Thursdays, 9-noon, from May 29 throughout the Short Session

Tell your mayor to END GERRYMANDERING!

Led by Richard Vinroot, Republican former mayor of Charlotte, and Charles Meeker, Democratic former mayor of Raleigh, North Carolinians to End Gerrymandering wants each of us to tell NC’s 546 mayors to call for an end to gerrymandering, and call Mayors Vinroot and Meeker at 919-833-0092 to pledge your support.

Join a wide variety of NC non-profits, on Lobby Day.  They ask: Can you join us and help keep the pressure on? Emails and phone calls always help – but a face-to-face meeting is priceless!  June 4th, 9 am - 2 pm (you do not need to stay the entire time) You must register online—

Clean up Coal Ash Lobby Day with NC Conservation Network and Sierra Club— http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/LobbyDay

Expand Medicaid with Planned Parenthood & NARAL — https://docs.google.com/forms/d/193sbeTXvPnrNAuoiZLgNFPnNzW03eEu5m23Zxy8VMNs/viewform

Join NC Conservation Network for a workshop for volunteers and potential leaders.  At this event you'll hear from environmental-minded local leaders, learn how to make positive changes in your local community, and explore how to go from concerned citizen to service on a board or commission.


What: Environmental Action: What You Can Do!


When: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, June 3, 2014


Where: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Raleigh, 3313 Wade Ave., Raleigh


Cost: FREE, refreshments will be provided. *Pre-registration is required for this event*
 

For more information or to register please visit: http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/page/s/Raleigh2014  
 For questions, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone: 919.857.4699 x104.

Who says that we North Carolina UUs are sitting back sipping our sweet tea?

 

Community Church of Chapel Hill Hosts Holly Near In Concert and Voting Rights Presentation by Former N.C. Senator Ellie Kinnaird,June 19, 2014. This event is nearly sold out. The interest and the opportunity are great. The event begins at 5:30 with Senator Kinnaird, then a simple supper, and the concert begins promptly at 7:30. Tickets to the concert are $25 and can only be secured online. Go to the Community Church website, http://www.C3HUU.org, click on Upcoming Events, and use the secure Paypal process. Do not temporize; this event may be sold out.

 

Community Church Calls Rev. Thom Belote as their Minister.

On Sunday, May 4th, the congregation voted to call Rev. Thom Belote as their settled minister.  Thom will begin his ministry on August 11th. There is so much about Rev. Belote to tell, from feeling his first call to the ministry at age 15 (understanding then how our faith has the power to change lives) to his studies at Reed College, Phi Beta Kappa, studying abroad and study at Harvard Divinity School. During his studies, he worked on the UUA’s anti-racism programs and was selected by Rev. John Buehrens as his student minister. At age 25, Thom began his ministry at the Shawnee Mission UU Church, outside Kansas City. To say that the Community Church members are delighted is an understatement – delirious – more closely approaches their excitement. Hold on to your hats.

Challenging the Constitutionality of Amendment One. Although many of us know that many efforts are underway to “undo” the damage of Amendment One, news was shared that another federal challenge has been filed on April 28 in North Carolina’s Western District on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination, clergy from across faith traditions, and same-sex couples who seek to marry.

The news article carried by www.DeepSouthProgressive.com begins by saying that “North Carolina Clergy challenge the Gay Marriage Ban, citing religious freedom.” Religious leaders, they say, are using the First Amendment to challenge Amendment One, which violates their religious freedom to conduct the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples in their congregations.

The list of North Carolina minister plaintiffs contained several ministers from United Church of Christ congregations, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Charlotte), and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. And, guess what? The list also included two UU North Carolina ministers: Our own Rev. Robyn Tanner, Piedmont UU Congregation (Charlotte) and Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister of UU Congregation of Asheville, and Carol Taylor and Betty Mack, a couple of 41 years, who attend UUC of Asheville. Sweet.

Tip of the Month: Local Congregational Facebooks Are Becoming Justice Facebooks. This is more than a straw in the wind. Until recently, congregational Facebook pages were no different from others. Sure, they build virtual communities of friends, with cozy pictures of vacations, pets, anniversaries, and maybe, some gossip. But, something has changed. Good and fun as those family pics are, they are increasingly being joined by Justice news, complaints, issues and concerns, and opportunities. Pictures and brief videos of the February 8 March seemed to be among the first noticeable entries. Then, meeting notices and sign up alerts and quotations and “likes and comments” followed. This is new stuff. It is as if congregational Facebooks are evolving from the cute and kind of adolescent stage, and are finding new purpose.

It is hoped that the fun candid pictures never are crowded out. The blend is what is so magnificent. For some of you sophisticated types, the question might be, “So, what’s so new?” What may be new is that more people are thinking that this mode of communication might be a good one to express their social justice thoughts. What’s new is that North Carolina UU Justice Councils might join with entries of their own about justice concerns and opportunities. Is it possible that there may be a larger constituency within our own congregations, who process information in this way, rather than skimming the somewhat passive monthly (Did I say monthly?) newsletters? As UUs discover and reach out to a younger set of families, who are diverse in nature, but having common concerns and values, how might our local Justice programs connect and engage them in this way and enrich their spiritual journey in the bargain? Let the Justice conversation within a much wider circle of friends begin. Can Twitter and Tweets serving a social justice purpose be far behind?

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe, be added to this Newsletter, or contribute news of events and initiatives, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

 

Update: May 29, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

To Maya Angelou: Because of you, we, too, rise.

She found her voice. May we now find ours.

You may have noticed that our North Carolina legislature is currently sitting in short session to admire their work of last year. This may be why their deliberations are labeled as a short session. ‘Nuf’ said – much more for us to do.

This is a tough time for the rest of us. We’re more than uncomfortable with the tension between the justice actions we need to take and the reality that at this time of year there are demanding activities requiring our attention as the school and congregation program year begins to close. Members we depend on to move our agendas forward are thinking more about GA, vacation, and the need to get away to restore their spirit.

UUFR in Raleigh Rally for Moral Mondays. A task group of eight UUFR members convened by Ticie and Tom Rhodes are making sure that the February 8 March becomes more than a Raleigh moment. They are calling themselves: The Moral Matters Task Force. They are inviting those UUs who signed up at the SSL website and others who joined the February March to mobilize in partnership with the NAACP of NC and other not-for-profit organizations to continue the March and meet with state legislators. The renewed effort began last Tuesday with a BYO lunch, training, and joining with others to meet with legislators and staffs. The link is here— http://www.naacpnc.org/

But, there is much, much more. They invite us to:

Attend one Education Demonstration (fully permitted/legal) at 16 W. Jones St with Public Schools First NC.  Hand out fact sheets on current issues in education, and engage with legislators and passers-by when you’re comfortable.  Bring a sign if you want.  Thursdays, 9-noon, from May 29 throughout the Short Session. Tell your mayor to END GERRYMANDERING!

                      Led by Richard Vinroot, Republican former mayor of Charlotte, and Charles Meeker, Democratic former mayor of Raleigh, North Carolinians to End Gerrymandering wants each of us to tell NC’s 546 mayors to call for an end to gerrymandering, and call Mayors Vinroot and Meeker at 919-833-0092 to pledge your support.

  • Join a wide variety of NC non-profits, including Lobby Day.  They ask: Can you join us and help keep the pressure on? Emails and phone calls always help – but a face-to-face meeting is priceless!  June 4th, 9 am - 2 pm (you do not need to stay the entire time) You must register online—

                      Clean up Coal Ash Lobby Day with NC Conservation Network and Sierra Club— http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/LobbyDay

                      Expand Medicaid with Planned Parenthood & NARAL — https://docs.google.com/forms/d/193sbeTXvPnrNAuoiZLgNFPnNzW03eEu5m23Zxy8VMNs/viewform

Join NC Conservation Network for a workshop for volunteers and potential leaders.  At this event you'll hear from environmental-minded local leaders, learn how to make positive changes in your local community, and explore how to go from concerned citizen to service on a board or commission.


What: Environmental Action: What You Can Do!


When: 6:00pm – 8:00pm, June 3, 2014


Where: Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Raleigh, 3313 Wade Ave., Raleigh


Cost: FREE, refreshments will be provided. *Pre-registration is required for this event*
 

For more information or to register please visit: http://action.ncconservationnetwork.org/page/s/Raleigh2014  
 For questions, contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or by phone: 919.857.4699 x104.

Who says that we North Carolina UUs are sitting back sipping our sweet tea?

 

Community Church of Chapel Hill Hosts Holly Near In Concert and Voting Rights Presentation by Former N.C. Senator Ellie Kinnaird,June 19, 2014. This event is nearly sold out. The interest and the opportunity are great. The event begins at 5:30 with Senator Kinnaird, then a simple supper, and the concert begins promptly at 7:30. Tickets to the concert are $25 and can only be secured online. Go to the Community Church website, http://www.C3HUU.org, click on Upcoming Events, and use the secure Paypal process. Do not temporize; this event may be sold out.

 

Community Church Calls Rev. Thom Belote as their Minister.

On Sunday, May 4th, the congregation voted to call Rev. Thom Belote as their settled minister.  Thom will begin his ministry on August 11th. There is so much about Rev. Belote to tell, from feeling his first call to the ministry at age 15 (understanding then how our faith has the power to change lives) to his studies at Reed College, Phi Beta Kappa, studying abroad and study at Harvard Divinity School. During his studies, he worked on the UUA’s anti-racism programs and was selected by Rev. John Buehrens as his student minister. At age 25, Thom began his ministry at the Shawnee Mission UU Church, outside Kansas City. To say that the Community Church members are delighted is an understatement – delirious – more closely approaches their excitement. Hold on to your hats.

Challenging the Constitutionality of Amendment One. Although many of us know that many efforts are underway to “undo” the damage of Amendment One, news was shared that another federal challenge has been filed on April 28 in North Carolina’s Western District on behalf of the United Church of Christ (UCC) denomination, clergy from across faith traditions, and same-sex couples who seek to marry.

The news article carried by www.DeepSouthProgressive.com begins by saying that “North Carolina Clergy challenge the Gay Marriage Ban, citing religious freedom.” Religious leaders, they say, are using the First Amendment to challenge Amendment One, which violates their religious freedom to conduct the sacrament of marriage to same sex couples in their congregations.

The list of North Carolina minister plaintiffs contained several ministers from United Church of Christ congregations, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (Charlotte), and Pullen Memorial Baptist Church. And, guess what? The list also included two UU North Carolina ministers: Our own Rev. Robyn Tanner, Piedmont UU Congregation (Charlotte) and Rev. Mark Ward, Lead Minister of UU Congregation of Asheville, and Carol Taylor and Betty Mack, a couple of 41 years, who attend UUC of Asheville. Sweet.

Tip of the Month: Local Congregational Facebooks Are Becoming Justice Facebooks. This is more than a straw in the wind. Until recently, congregational Facebook pages were no different from others. Sure, they build virtual communities of friends, with cozy pictures of vacations, pets, anniversaries, and maybe, some gossip. But, something has changed. Good and fun as those family pics are, they are increasingly being joined by Justice news, complaints, issues and concerns, and opportunities. Pictures and brief videos of the February 8 March seemed to be among the first noticeable entries. Then, meeting notices and sign up alerts and quotations and “likes and comments” followed. This is new stuff. It is as if congregational Facebooks are evolving from the cute and kind of adolescent stage, and are finding new purpose.

It is hoped that the fun candid pictures never are crowded out. The blend is what is so magnificent. For some of you sophisticated types, the question might be, “So, what’s so new?” What may be new is that more people are thinking that this mode of communication might be a good one to express their social justice thoughts. What’s new is that North Carolina UU Justice Councils might join with entries of their own about justice concerns and opportunities. Is it possible that there may be a larger constituency within our own congregations, who process information in this way, rather than skimming the somewhat passive monthly (Did I say monthly?) newsletters? As UUs discover and reach out to a younger set of families, who are diverse in nature, but having common concerns and values, how might our local Justice programs connect and engage them in this way and enrich their spiritual journey in the bargain? Let the Justice conversation within a much wider circle of friends begin. Can Twitter and Tweets serving a social justice purpose be far behind?

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe, be added to this Newsletter, or contribute news of events and initiatives, please contact Doug.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe, be added to this Newsletter, or contribute news of events and initiatives, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: April 24, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

Holly Near In Concert with Emma's Revolution, June 19, 2014

The Community Church of Chapel Hill UU, 106 Purefoy Road, Chapel Hill,

But, that’s just the end of the evening. There’s much more happening before the concert!

This is a rare opportunity that must not be missed. The Community Church of Chapel Hill is offering a very special late afternoon and evening of Justice discussion and planning, a supper, and an evening concert by Holly Near with Emma’s Revolution. This is truly a festival of food for the head; then the body; then the heart.

To hear the Rev. Ruth Gibson and Frankie Price-Stern tell it, “It is time to stop the hand-ringing over Voting Rights, and move to action.” They call us to this Standing on the Side of Love Concert with the shout that has echoed from the beginning of the Moral Monday Marches to the “Big one” in Raleigh on February 8: "Forward Together - One More Step". “This is the beginning of the Movement. The call is a fitting change from NAACP’s “Forward Together – Not One Step Back”. “We’re not even thinking about stepping back.” They said. “We invite you to take an important step forward.”

5:00 pm. Arrive

5:30 pm. Former N.C. Senator Ellie Kinnaird will lead the key session focusing on Voter Access, and developing an action plan for next steps. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about our North Carolina Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Network.

6:30 pm. Discussion continues over simple supper of homemade soups (including a vegan choice) and salad will be provided, along with childcare, for a cost-covering donation of $5-8 per person.

7:30 pm The Holly Near Concert begins.

Tickets to the concert ($25) are only available in advance. No tickets will be available at the door. This concert will be sold out.


Secure your tickets at Community Church on Sundays or online at this link until sold out: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=QZADSWPGGN2F4

For reservations or more information contact Ruth Gibson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Senator Ellie Kinnaird has consistently proposed and voted for legislation that reflects the values and concerns of her constituents, not the special interests. She has fought for:

  • an open and honest government that reduces the influence of money in politics and is responsive to the needs and will of the people of North Carolina;
  • an opportunity for all North Carolinians to have a quality education from preschool through college regardless of background;
  • an economy that offers competitive goods and services with a strong local economic base, a vibrant health care sector that assures access to affordable, quality care and economic development that creates jobs in the clean industries of the future;
  • a healthy environment that preserves farmland and open space and provides clean air and water supplies now and for future generations; and
    • laws that provide equal protection for all whether it's support for the Racial Justice Act or fighting to protect all NC families by opposing the NC Constitutional Amendment One that was on the ballot in May 2012.
  • an open and honest government that reduces the influence of money in politics and is responsive to the needs and will of the people of North Carolina;
  • an opportunity for all North Carolinians to have a quality education from preschool through college regardless of background;
  • an economy that offers competitive goods and services with a strong local economic base, a vibrant health care sector that assures access to affordable, quality care and economic development that creates jobs in the clean industries of the future;
  • a healthy environment that preserves farmland and open space and provides clean air and water supplies now and for future generations; and
    • laws that provide equal protection for all whether it's support for the Racial Justice Act or fighting to protect all NC families by opposing the NC Constitutional Amendment One that was on the ballot in May 2012.

Holly Near is respected around the world for her music and activism, her joy and passion inspire people to join in her celebration of the human spirit. Equally compelling, her music fully engages listeners in the world around them. Holly has made a career speaking to anyone in the world who believes in peace, justice, and feminism, a wonderful spectrum of humanity.

Near has been recognized many times for her work for social change, including honors from the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; she was named Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year and received the Legends of Women’s Music Award. During her travels in the Pacific with the Free the Army show, Holly became a globally conscious feminist, linking international feminism and anti-war activism. She was an active participant and coalition builder in what she calls the “heady days” of 70s activism, when so many movements were gestating and jostling with one another.

Community Church is taking its justice commitment to the public square. Participants will invest a few hours on June 19 to learn, to network, to be inspired, and moved to informed action. Congratulations.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: April 24, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

Holly Near In Concert with Emma's Revolution, June 19, 2014

The Community Church of Chapel Hill UU, 106 Purefoy Road, Chapel Hill,

But, that’s just the end of the evening. There’s much more happening before the concert!

This is a rare opportunity that must not be missed. The Community Church of Chapel Hill is offering a very special late afternoon and evening of Justice discussion and planning, a supper, and an evening concert by Holly Near with Emma’s Revolution. This is truly a festival of food for the head; then the body; then the heart.

To hear the Rev. Ruth Gibson and Frankie Price-Stern tell it, “It is time to stop the hand-ringing over Voting Rights, and move to action.” They call us to this Standing on the Side of Love Concert with the shout that has echoed from the beginning of the Moral Monday Marches to the “Big one” in Raleigh on February 8: "Forward Together - One More Step". “This is the beginning of the Movement. The call is a fitting change from NAACP’s “Forward Together – Not One Step Back”. “We’re not even thinking about stepping back.” They said. “We invite you to take an important step forward.”

5:00 pm. Arrive

5:30 pm. Former N.C. Senator Ellie Kinnaird will lead the key session focusing on Voter Access, and developing an action plan for next steps. There will also be an opportunity to learn more about our North Carolina Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry Network.

6:30 pm. Discussion continues over simple supper of homemade soups (including a vegan choice) and salad will be provided, along with childcare, for a cost-covering donation of $5-8 per person.

7:30 pm The Holly Near Concert begins.

Tickets to the concert ($25) are only available in advance. No tickets will be available at the door. This concert will be sold out.


Secure your tickets at Community Church on Sundays or online at this link until sold out: https://www.paypal.com/cgi-bin/webscr?cmd=_s-xclick&hosted_button_id=QZADSWPGGN2F4

For reservations or more information contact Ruth Gibson, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Senator Ellie Kinnaird has consistently proposed and voted for legislation that reflects the values and concerns of her constituents, not the special interests. She has fought for:

 

  • an open and honest government that reduces the influence of money in politics and is responsive to the needs and will of the people of North Carolina;

 

  • an opportunity for all North Carolinians to have a quality education from preschool through college regardless of background;
  • an economy that offers competitive goods and services with a strong local economic base, a vibrant health care sector that assures access to affordable, quality care and economic development that creates jobs in the clean industries of the future;
  • a healthy environment that preserves farmland and open space and provides clean air and water supplies now and for future generations; and
  • laws that provide equal protection for all whether it's support for the Racial Justice Act or fighting to protect all NC families by opposing the NC Constitutional Amendment One that was on the ballot in May 2012.an open and honest government that reduces the influence of money in politics and is responsive to the needs and will of the people of North Carolina;
  • an opportunity for all North Carolinians to have a quality education from preschool through college regardless of background;
  • an economy that offers competitive goods and services with a strong local economic base, a vibrant health care sector that assures access to affordable, quality care and economic development that creates jobs in the clean industries of the future;
  • a healthy environment that preserves farmland and open space and provides clean air and water supplies now and for future generations; and

 

  • laws that provide equal protection for all whether it's support for the Racial Justice Act or fighting to protect all NC families by opposing the NC Constitutional Amendment One that was on the ballot in May 2012.

Holly Near is respected around the world for her music and activism, her joy and passion inspire people to join in her celebration of the human spirit. Equally compelling, her music fully engages listeners in the world around them. Holly has made a career speaking to anyone in the world who believes in peace, justice, and feminism, a wonderful spectrum of humanity.

 

 

 

Near has been recognized many times for her work for social change, including honors from the ACLU, the National Lawyers Guild, the National Organization for Women, and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences; she was named Ms. Magazine Woman of the Year and received the Legends of Women’s Music Award. During her travels in the Pacific with the Free the Army show, Holly became a globally conscious feminist, linking international feminism and anti-war activism. She was an active participant and coalition builder in what she calls the “heady days” of 70s activism, when so many movements were gestating and jostling with one another.

Community Church is taking its justice commitment to the public square. Participants will invest a few hours on June 19 to learn, to network, to be inspired, and moved to informed action. Congratulations.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

 

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: April, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

March Madness is by now a faint, but still somewhat painful memory. For many of us, we are now completing our pledge campaigns, forming final budgets, and getting a glimpse on the horizon of annual meetings, GA, and, for some, the end of the formal program year. Most of us hoped that by this time our “To Do” list would be under at least marginal control. We also know in our heart of hearts that planning for the future is also a priority, rather than a fanciful luxury of deep chair reflection. The push is on and time is short. But, on that horizon, we see the promise of an exciting future. What do we need to do to be ready?

Kudos: There are a number of UUs, who organized volunteers to help their Social Justice clients sign up for health insurance before the March 31 deadline. Their “Have Laptop, Will Travel” savvy helped quite a number of people. There were happy stories as well as very sad stories. Some of the volunteers had never been involved in local justice work, but who felt the pull to do something.

Others of us had a first try at registering citizens for the Primary on May 6. Although the deadline has now passed, they now know what it takes for their planned summer and early fall campaign. If you and/or your congregation are planning to organize a Voter Registration and ID effort, please let us know, so we can encourage others.

Jennifer May-Parker: There has never been an African-American judge on the United States District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina and for some reason Senator Richard Burr seems intent on keeping it that way. According to NCPolicywatch.com, President Obama nominated federal prosecutor Jennifer May-Parker last year to fill a vacancy on the court. She would be the first African-American and the second woman ever to serve on the Eastern District bench but she has yet to receive a hearing before the Senate Judiciary Committee because Burr refuses to allow it. He has yet to turn in his “blue slip” to enable the Judiciary Committee to move forward. What is curious is that Senator Burr endorsed May-Parker for the job in a letter to President Obama on July 21, 2009. Senator Burr and Senator Kay Hagan have signed off on other federal court nominations. Judges in the Middle District in Greensboro and the Western District in Asheville were given hearings and confirmed in the last few years.

Action: This will take but a few minutes of your time. Go to Senator Burr’s site at: http://www.burr.senate.gov/public/index.cfm?FuseAction=Contact.ContactForm. Complete the form. Say what you want, but encourage the good Senator in a single sentence or two to clear the way for a Senate hearing for Jennifer May-Parker by filing his Blue Slip. He and his staff know what a Blue Slip is.

Think of it: Five Thousand NC UUs in solidarity sending Senator Burr a message to encourage him to do the right and honorable thing.

Voter Registration and Voting Rights: Actions by UUs and other organizations of faith and citizen action have been organizing and testing their readiness for registering voters. Although the deadline for registering voters for the Primary on May 6 has passed, people who have used the Democracync.org’s Operation Jumpstart kits and procedures report that the process is uncomplicated and straightforward. Local coalitions across the state, such as Youcanvote.org have provided training sessions for volunteers.

As you may know, Primary voters will be asked on May 6, if they have an acceptable photo ID. A negative answer, however, will not preclude voting. Showing the right ID begins in 2016. It makes sense to combine ID education with voter registration and actual voting this time around.

Action:As an outgrowth of the Feb 8 Moral March in Raleigh, The Unitarian Coastal Fellowship, Morehead City, has formed a non-partisan Voter Rights Coalition with the goal of ensuring that all eligible citizens in their county who want to vote can vote and have their vote counted, and with the objectives of educating citizens about the changes in North Carolina voting laws, registering voters, helping people to obtain acceptable IDs, and helping people get to the polls to vote.  UCF is organizing a forum on April 29, featuring the Director of the local county Board of Elections and the Executive Director of Democracy NC. Ideas or requests for information, contact Miriam Green or Barb Thomas through Rev. Sally White at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Tom Dessereau at the UU Congregation of Asheville keeps us posted on their Social Justice activities and alerts. The most recent was a call to UUs to attend a Board of Elections meeting having to do with purging the voter rolls which particularly affects the homeless who give one of the several homeless shelters as their address. What’s happening in your neighborhood?

Here’s the Dessereau Challenge: Can we achieve 100% voter registration in each of our congregations for members, friends, and especially, our Social Justice clients in the neighborhoods we serve? What would it take to do this? Let’s do this. The members, etc., only need to say, “Yes.” If the answer is “no,” or, “not yet,” the Operation Jumpstart kit is ready. Our homeless kitchens and food banks are places to do this.

Decide on your priority activities. Who else should be involved in planning and implementing a project? What other groups in your area might be enthusiastic partners? Should there be an organizing meeting, or an education meeting first, or can they be combined? Democracy NC cautions not to be overly ambitious; set realistic goals.

Contact the Democracy NC organizer for your region for advice, free materials, and possible volunteers in your area. Go to http://www.democracy-nc.org/about-us/our-staff/ for the organizers’ contact or reach Operation Jumpstart manager Ron Garcia-Fogarty at 919-286-6000 X31.

The Operation JumpStart project of Democracy NC has a long public list of organizations and faith communities that have signed on to support this statewide coalition. How might your congregation “sign on”? What UU congregation might be first?

A Living Wage: On July 18, last year, The Rev. Peter Morales, president of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), and the Rev. Bill Schulz, president and CEO of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), issued a joint statement in support of legislation to raise minimum wages in the United States. Go to www.uua.org/news/pressroom/pressreleases/289076.shtml to read the full statement. Words are one thing, but raising the issue in a productive way in North Carolina is a task that is ours to carry out. We are not alone. The NAACP and the NC Council of Churches have robust programs to raise the issue. What shall UUs in North Carolina do?

Here are some facts that have been in the news, lately: Half of fast food workers need public aid. As you now know, many, many of these workers are not just kids earning gas money. Tipped workers in the US make $2.13 an hour as base pay and haven’t had a raise since 1991. The federal minimum wage has been below what’s needed to keep a family of three out of poverty since 1980.  Today, half of all jobs pay less than $27,000 per year. Today, 26 million Americans want full-time work but cannot find it. In my congregation, and I’m certain in yours, I know of one man who works four (4) part-time jobs. He told me that he hoped one day to be secure enough to marry and go to school. Oh, by the way, he pledged again this year. We can thank him for his pledge by publically working to improve his prospects.

If you are interested in working on this project, contact UU Dick Chady at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. here in North Carolina.

Events: Voter Rights Coalition Forum, April 29, Unitarian Coastal Fellowship, Morehead City. This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Public Schools First NC -- Forum: Keeping NC Public Schools Strong, May 3 NC State McKimmon Center, Raleigh, 9-3. www.publicschoolsfirstnc.org

NC Council of Churches – 2014 Critical Issues Seminar, June 16, 9-3:45. Focus is on Public Education in North Carolina at the United Church of Chapel Hill. www.ncchurches.org

Here’s The Thing: Anticipating the future; being ready for it through planning and working with others starts our journey on the right footing. The Short Legislative Session begins on May 14. Policy actions taken during the session will affect each one of us, and particularly, those whom we serve through our Justice programs. The challenge for us is to figure out a way of getting ahead of the curve, partnering with other UU congregations and with local organizations to form a united and visible presence, okay, visible force, for principle. We spend too much time on our heels, being reactive to events, rather than shaping them. Many of our rallies are about actions already taken. We seem passionate enough after votes have been counted. Why not before? Minimum wage and immigration are on many dockets, as is the Death Penalty, the polluting of our water systems, and women’s reproductive rights. Isolated efforts by individuals may generate a spark, but it takes a wildfire of commitment, stoked by other UU congregations and partners to find traction and to apply the heat. There is always time for introspection. We ask, “What might we have done? What might we have done differently?” After the legislative session and after the November voting, we need to ask that same questions again.

"The best lack all conviction, while the worst
 are full of passionate intensity."

- W. B. Yeats, "The Second Coming"

“I love by doing.” Mary Frances Comer

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: February 19, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

The month of February has been a busy and thoughtful one for UUs across our state. And, the short month isn’t even over yet! There is a great deal going on within our congregations that needs to be shared with all of us for inspiration, celebration, and collaboration. That is the mission of this Legislative Ministry.

Ordination of Nathan (Nato) Hollister: It is difficult to think of a single act that UU congregations take that defines the freedom and independence of our liberal faith communities than the decision to ordain someone who will dedicate their life to the service of our spiritual journeys. Members of The Community Church of Chapel Hill and Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship made that decision and that commitment to the now Reverend Nathan (Nato) Hollister on February 7th. These are celebrative affairs, but beneath the inspiring words of The Reverend Bill Schulz and the Charge to Nato Hollister and the good reception food is the solemn – sobering – work that ministers do. More often than not, it is lonely and challenging work that portends enormous rewards for those who witness and are touched by that ministry. Fare Thee Well, Nato.

Radical Hospitality at UU Fellowship at Raleigh: The February 7th and 8th epicenter for coordinating and hosting UUs from all over the country was located at UUFR. Coordination by the Rev. Tom Rhodes, along with stellar on-the-ground work by Rev. John Saxon and the UUFR congregation was nothing short of awesome. But, it didn’t stop with food and places to lay one’s head. UUFR was the place for conversation, relationship and commitment building after the March. UUFR hospitality seized the opportunity for the “teaching moment”. We were both teachers and students. The lesson wasn’t a new one; we students, however, were ready to learn.

The March on February 8th: The national spotlight increasingly is focused on North Carolina. Much of what we do or fail to do means a great deal to concerned progressives across our nation. Hundreds of UUs came from Seattle, California, Michigan, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Virginia, and Ohio – 32 states in all – including our Peter Morales. They came hoisting their congregational banners and their wonderful Standing On The Side Of Love banners, and wearing hoodies and shirts, and ministerial stoles. “That’s why we’re here.” They said.

We North Carolinians came in buses, trains, and carpools. In Asheville, UUs partnered with other groups. Local NAACP groups reached out to UUs for sharing rides. They and we NC UUs punctuated the masses of people with our banners and signs. The carnival atmosphere, however, belied the message of the day. The “One Step Forward, Not One Step Back!” shouts inspired a solidarity and purpose among a widely diverse crowd, including many young people.

Reverend Barber, President of the NC NAACP, moved us with a five-point platform:

  1. Secure pro-labor, anti-poverty policies that ensure economic sustainability.
  2. Provide well-funded, quality public education for all.
  3. Promote healthcare for all, including affordable access, Medicaid expansion, women’s health, and environmental justice.
  4. Address the continuing disparities in the criminal justice system of race and class.
  5. Defend and expand voting rights, women’s rights, immigrant rights, LGBT rights, and the principle of equality under the law.

Here’s The Thing: On occasions such as these, we hear the fervent observation that “This isn’t a moment; this is a movement.” We UUs and the organizations with whom we work need to find ways for taking the next step. After the marching, what do we do next? How might we continue the conversation and move to coordinated action? Rev. Barber’s points match our own principles. As individuals, we can do a great deal. As congregations working together, we can do much more. Our mutual support strengthens each of us.

One of the challenges we have is that few Social Justice chairs (and other lay leaders for that matter) know the colleague in the nearby UU congregation. We are isolated from one another. These silos are more like moats that seemingly protect us from being with one another. Overcoming this single barrier will move us forward. If you have an idea or two for bringing us together, please share it.

Actions You Can Take:

            Reviewing Your Social Justice Mission Statement: First, do you have one? It may be a good time for the congregation or your Social Concerns or Social Justice committees to conduct a comprehensive review of the Social Justice Mission. Many congregations are fully and actively committed to social justice programs, but rarely take a congregation-wide “compass reading” to see how they are doing, or what more needs to be done. Social Justice statements are almost always found in the congregation’s mission statement, but are operationally limited to or defined by individual efforts, rather than an expressed congregation priority. The result often is that individual efforts move forward under their own steam. The congregation is largely unaffected, but is happy that there are other dedicated individuals doing what should also be their work. Some congregations are using the March and the 30 Days of Love that is now concluding as a springboard for that conversation, using leadership forums and SurveyMonkey©.

            Creating Local Communities of Interest: Many of us miss opportunities to broaden our “client list” of members within our respective congregations who respond to social justice events and concerns. When we hold or coordinate events and programs, such as the March or “30 Days”, we may count noses and have a vague idea of who participated, but we often miss the opportunity to build on that relationship. “If interested, they will return”, we might say, rather than reaching back to them. We assume that publishing SJ opportunities and related events to the entire congregation is sufficient publicity and lures for involvement. To a degree, vital and important as these communications are, many member readers view the newsletter as the repository of “news”. It becomes a general commodity to be consumed, rather than viewed as a direct appeal. These efforts need to be supplemented by building relationships with specific members who are inclined to social justice work. In our social justice committees and councils, this enhancement might require additional committee members who have the facility for communication and embrace the importance of expanding our local social justice circle within the congregation.

Events And Horizon Issues Shared With Us: Tom Dessereau of UUC Asheville reports that an open meeting was held at UUCA around the issue of the recently designated Superfund site in South Asheville. The guest speaker, Lee Ann Smith, co-founder of the local P.O.W.E. R. Action Group told her story of how this chemical contamination affected her family and community. There are huge environmental issues, Tom says, that are happening in our own backyard.

Move to Amend is a growing movement in this country. In Charlotte, Asheville, Cary, and elsewhere, there are organizations that are active in seeking an amendment to our Constitution concerning the Citizens United ruling. The central resolution that is used or refined by local groups is: “We, the People of the United States of America, reject the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in Citizens United and other related cases, and move to amend our Constitution to firmly establish that money is not speech, and that human beings, not corporations, are persons entitled to constitutional rights.” A number of UU congregations and organizations are working on this. More about this later. For the time being, go to www. Movetoamend.org.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

 Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: January 6, 2014

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

NC NAACP Moral March on “HKonJ” (Excerpts from StandingontheSideofLove.org and ERUUF Currents)

Saturday, February 8, 2014 Downtown Raleigh

For the past seven years, the North Carolina NAACP has organized “HKonJ” (Historic Thousands on Jones Street) as a way of building positive connections between progressive groups in the state. Organizers envision the 2014 march as “the largest Moral March for Justice since Selma in 1965.” They are inviting religious, health and human service, immigration, LGBT, labor and others, and have asked them to bring large groups to the march.

The UUA has been invited, and President Peter Morales has confirmed that he and other UU leaders will be in Raleigh that weekend. NC UU ministers have been asked to issue a call to fellow UUs from around the country, urging them to come and stand on the side of love, and march for civil rights on February 8 just as we did in Selma in 1965, and more recently in Phoenix. On short notice, two thousand UUs picked up and went to Phoenix in May 2011 to stand together on the side of love in opposition to a repressive Immigration law.

More information: www.standingonthesideoflove.org

Logistic information: www.carolinajustice.typepad.com/hkonj/logistics.html

The issue of voting rights and voter suppression has long held great meaning for Unitarian Universalists, in part because the Washington D.C. minister, Rev. James Reeb, felt called to Selma by these particular issues. He was viciously attacked there and died of his injuries. Just a few days after his death, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act.

In the 1960's, young black and white Freedom Riders from around the nation also did their part to challenge segregation laws by riding together through the Deep South on Interstate buses. They slept on church floors as they traveled. The UU congregations in the Triangle have been asked to provide floor space and home hospitality for UUs in February. Contact their offices for hospitality information.

Forward Together,

Reverend Ann Marie Alderman
Developmental Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Greensboro

Reverend Lisa Bovee-Kemper
Assistant Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Asheville

Reverend Deborah Cayer
Lead Minister, Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, Durham

Reverend Maj-Britt Johnson
Community Minister in Chapel Hill

Reverend Patty Hanneman
Minister, Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Hillsborough

Reverend Jay Leach
Senior Minister, Unitarian Universalist Church of Charlotte

Reverend Tom Rhodes
Community Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh

Reverend John Saxon
Lead Minister, Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Raleigh

Reverend Robin Tanner
Lead Minister, Piedmont Unitarian Universalist Church

The new edition of M.L. King brochure is now available free. This year it includes a description of many big changes in NC’s voting rules, a call to attend a historic “Moral March on Raleigh” on February 8, and other activities for people concerned about voting rights in North Carolina.

You can see a copy of the brochure by clicking on this web link <http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/MLKing2014.pdf> :

http://www.democracy-nc.org/downloads/MLKing2014.pdf

Rev. William F. Schulz, an international human rights leader and head of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), will visit Durham and  Raleigh UU congregations on Feb 8 and 9.  All events are free and open to the public:

·         6:00 p.m., Saturday, Feb. 8:  Schulz will speak about the work of the UUSC at a potluck dinner in the Fellowship Hall of the Eno River UU Fellowship(ERUUF), 4907 Garrett Road, Durham

       11:00 a.m., Sunday, Feb. 9: Schulz will preach at the UU Fellowship of Raleigh, 3313 Wade Avenue, Raleigh.

·         4:00 p.m. , Sunday, Feb. 9: Schulz will be the main speaker at ordination ceremonies for Nathan “Nato” Alan Hollister as a Unitarian Universalist minister, in the Sanctuary at ERUUF.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: November 29, 2013

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 

For many of us, our Thanksgiving dinner is now a satisfying memory. We ate too much. We also managed to watch far too much football with friends and relatives in our warm and festive homes. For others, of course, the sharing of bounty came from a food truck, from one of our congregations, or was available at the local food bank. It was a particularly welcome meal. They were the lucky ones. With one in seven of our North Carolina children at risk and hungry, we have a great deal of work to do.

 

A report from the Raleigh-based Budget and Tax Center authored by Tazara Mitchell says that North Carolina ranks fifth among states in food insecurity and that cuts in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or food stamps, mean many people face the holiday season without enough food. According to the report about 1.6 million low-income people in North Carolina receive SNAP benefits. Two-thirds of them are in families with children. The ranking was based on surveys conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Mitchell said North Carolina ranks behind Mississippi, Arkansas, Texas and Alabama.

 

“At a time when jobless workers outnumber available jobs by nearly three-to-one in North Carolina, further cuts to SNAP is the wrong approach to fighting hunger and will make life harder for North Carolinians who already face difficult tradeoffs between food and other essential needs,” said Tazra Mitchell. “Until public policies are put in place to close the job shortage, raise wages, and spread the economic gains broadly, keeping a robust safety net system is required to alleviate food insecurity and keep poverty in check.” (News & Observer, November 29, 2013)

 

The sharing of our bounty at Thanksgiving and toys at Christmas does as much for the recipients as it does for the givers. There is more, of course, that we can do to change the direction of these public policies. So, the season begins, anew.

 

UU NC Legislative Ministry Survey for Ranking NC UU Policy Issues and Communication Preferences: Our first survey that invited you to help sharpen our focus on policy issues is producing interesting results. If you have yet to spend three minutes completing the survey, please click here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YNWT52J. The survey will be open for a bit longer to more of us to express our views about issues confronting North Carolinians.

 

Preliminary as these “votes” may be, our first look at ourselves comes mostly from member/respondents from the larger congregations.

 

1.    An overwhelming majority reported that it would be “Very Probable” (or better) that their congregation would join with other NC UU congregations to work on one or more state-level Social Justice policy issues?

 

2.    An even greater majority reported that it would be “Very Probable” (or better) that their congregation would make a public statement about a public policy issue that is of concern to a large majority of their members?

 

3.    Current Issue Ranking: Voter Registration and Photo ID (by far the highest), then Marriage Equality and Alleviating Hunger (tied), Immigration and Racial Discrimination, Establishing Healthcare programs through Medicaid Extension and Exchanges, then, Environmental Concerns. Write-in comments focused on public education, gun control, labor rights (minimum wage/jobs), death penalty, and more specific environmental issues – waterways and fracking.

 

4.    Our use or comfort level for using Facebook or Twitter as cross-state communication devices was low and mixed. The search goes on.

 

Most of the respondents reported that they have been or are current leaders within their congregations at the Board or program chair level. It is reasonable to believe that they have a good understanding of congregational sensitivities and commitment to issues. We are eager for members of smaller congregations and fellowships to join this conversation and to complete this initial survey. The more we learn about each other, the more likely it is that we will find that passion and common ground to work together.

 

What Is Going On: As you look at your Social Justice programs and activities, please share your plans and events with this Legislative Ministry. Shared ideas and inspirations are a great help to other UU congregations. Extend your reach – you will find many partners who will “lean in” and are eager to work with you.

 

Asheville Earth Sabbath Celebration was held on November 25, 7-8 p.m.
337 Charlotte Street, Asheville.
The theme this month was Bunches and Bunches and Bunches of Gratitude with Rev. Joy Christi Przestwor, priest of the Liberal Catholic Malabar Rite and candidate for UU ministerial dual status, was the guest minister. This was reported in the NC Council of Churches’ weekly news.

 

The NC NAACP has endorsed an open letter to Gov. McCrory about the state’s decision to deny certain unemployment insurance benefits and expanded Medicaid coverage to hundreds of thousands of vulnerable North Carolinians. The letter was originally drafted by four good friends and distinguished colleagues: William Barber, William Turner, Rodney Sadler, and Carrie Bolton. The NAACP delivered the letter to the Governor on Tuesday, November 26, in anticipation of Hanukkah and Thanksgiving. We UUs need to join similar actions or do the same thing on our own. Forwarding five thousand UU NC signatures is a good thing to do. Is there one of us who might draft a brief letter for distribution among our congregations?

 

Here’s The Thing: Sharpening our focus and selecting several policy issues to work on help us move forward. It gives us something concrete to build on. But, it also invites us to take yet another step beyond the sorting. We need to determine how we might work together as individuals and as committed congregations. We are beginning that conversation. Our conversations will move us to action. Let us know what your congregation is doing.

 

Weather Report: It is important to note that the political environment is changing. [News & Observer, November 28, excerpt] A new group of business leaders, the very top ones in North Carolina, may be able to get the attention of NC legislators to advance the noble cause of public education. The group’s name is a little weighty, “Business for Education Success and Transformation North Carolina,” but it shortens up nicely to BEST NC.

 

Among the members are Ann Goodnight of SAS; Jim Goodmon of Capitol Broadcasting; Brad Wilson, CEO of Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina; C.D. Spangler Jr., former UNC system president and businessman; and AT&T’s Venessa Harrison. Organizers hope to have 75 members.

 

The obvious connection between this new group and education is that business can’t survive and prosper without properly educated people. This new group will support Common Core, the set of tougher standards for public schools, and its members will advocate early childhood education programs that are crucial to giving all of North Carolina’s youngsters a fair shot in school at the most crucial time, the beginning.

 

But in this group are business leaders who will indeed get the attention of lawmakers without begging for it. The teachers and students in North Carolina’s public education system find themselves without adequate resources. The state’s teachers now are 46th in pay in the nation, and the state is near the bottom on spending.

 

Actions You Can Take:Operation Jumpstart: Raleigh Community Action Meeting to Organize in Response to NC's New Voting Law.
Tuesday, December 3, 6:30-8 p.m.
Pullen Memorial Baptist Church, Finlator Hall
1801 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh. Operation Jumpstart is a statewide effort to help people understand recent changes in voting laws, how those changes will impact voting in 2014, and how faith communities can help counter the negative effects of the new law. The program will feature Bob Hall, executive director of Democracy NC. To register, contact Allison Harrison at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

Voter ID and Registration tools are found on our Legislative Ministry website. Click on Issues, Current Priority Issues section for materials and kits from non-partisan Democracy NC. They encourage their use. No prior permission is needed.

 

Letter and signatures to Governor McCrory: Share your draft with us to share with others. Use the NC NAACP letter as a guide.

 

Thirty Days of Love and One Hour of Service: Standing on the Side of Love (SSL) is an interfaith public advocacy campaign of faith in action sponsored by the Unitarian Universalist Association. It is a community of people who believe that love “is the ultimate guiding force of our world, and that we are all compelled to speak out against injustice.” This is done through education and advocacy and through action and service.

 

Mark your calendars for the 2014 Thirty Days of Love campaign that runs from January 18 to February 16. Kick off the month with service opportunities on the Martin Luther King, Jr. Day of Service on January 20, 2014. MLK Day is now known as “A day ON—not a day off” and is the only federal holiday recognized as a day of service.

 

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: October 2013

 

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 

Despite the intentional upbeat message “amid the legislative rubble” reported in the September Newsletter, several responders opined that we needed to: “Git on with it.” They understood the mission of this Legislative Ministry that invites congregations and Social Justice groups to work together on state-level public policy issues. They also believed it was time to roll up our sleeves and move beyond platitudes and recalling how bad things have become since January. That means that we need to begin the hard work of pulling together, picking an issue or two that have possibility and overcoming the stationary inertia that impedes our progress, and start doing something.

 

Survey for Ranking NC UU Policy Issues and Communication Preferences: Please take this brief survey by clicking here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YNWT52J. We need to sharpen our focus on policy issues in North Carolina that we UUs believe are important and will work on together. This is a Straw Poll; it does not commit you or your congregation. We also need to know how you best like to receive and respond to our conversations and work. Sorting through an issue list is not an easy task, because we need to balance critical need and the probability of active congregational interest with the likelihood of success. Although there may be glorious martyrdom to pursue issues with little prospect of success, it is hardly a prudent strategy starting out. Still, none of the issue options is easy to engage.

 

We are eager to encourage as many UUs in North Carolina as is possible to respond to this survey. If you would like to include the survey URL on your website or other of your electronic communication outlets, merely copy the address above. It might take three minutes of your time to complete the survey.

 

Unitarian Coastal Fellowship Workshop: In September, UCF convened a workshop titled: Church and State: How Does a Church Take A Stand on Political Issues?. The Rev. John Saxon, Raleigh, and Doug Rhodes, Eno River, conducted that meeting of about 50 people during a Saturday afternoon. Although such meetings do have minor costs associated with them, this sort of service might be a good thing to contemplate at the Cluster level. UCF invited non-UUs, as well. There are both pros and cons to this. Personally, I thought that it added to the richness. The Episcopal attendees are now partners and are going back to add Justice to their mission statement.

 

What Is Going On: As you look at your Social Justice programs and activities, please share your plans and events with this Legislative Ministry. Shared ideas and inspirations are a great help to other UU congregations. Extend your reach – you will find many partners who will “lean in” and are eager to work with you.

 

Here’s The Thing: Sharpening our focus and selecting several policy issues to work on, as a beginning, helps us to move toward doing something. It gives us something concrete to build on. But, it also invites us to take yet another step beyond the sorting. We need to determine how we might work together as individuals and as committed congregations and move forward.

 

Weather Report: It is important to note that the political environment is changing. State polls reflect a rejection of recent legislative actions and of the so-called leaders who authorized them. We have a governor who must now buy advertising time defending Voter ID and Education legislation. The Legislature is whispering a paltry 2% raise for teachers during the next election year. The statewide teacher walk-in this Monday to talk with parents about the budget consequences to public education is supported by the PTA. Both have turned deaf ears to threats by Assembly members. Jason Thigpen, who is challenging fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones in the 3rd Congressional District, is switching his party affiliation, and wrote a blistering assessment of his former party’s legislative actions. Straws in the wind as these developments may be, they are part of a mix that strengthens the Biblical bricks we will make to rebuild the

 

House of North Carolina that the hungry wolves cannot blow down. You probably remember both stories. Both had happy endings.

 

 Actions You Can Take: Voter ID and Registration tools are found on our Legislative Ministry website. Click on Issues, Current Priority Issues section for materials and kits from non-partisan Democracy NC. They encourage their use. No prior permission is needed.

 

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

 Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

 

Update: October 2013

 

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 

Despite the intentional upbeat message “amid the legislative rubble” reported in the September Newsletter, several responders opined that we needed to: “Git on with it.” They understood the mission of this Legislative Ministry that invites congregations and Social Justice groups to work together on state-level public policy issues. They also believed it was time to roll up our sleeves and move beyond platitudes and recalling how bad things have become since January. That means that we need to begin the hard work of pulling together, picking an issue or two that have possibility and overcoming the stationary inertia that impedes our progress, and start doing something.

 

Survey for Ranking NC UU Policy Issues and Communication Preferences: Please take this brief survey by clicking here: http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/YNWT52J. We need to sharpen our focus on policy issues in North Carolina that we UUs believe are important and will work on together. This is a Straw Poll; it does not commit you or your congregation. We also need to know how you best like to receive and respond to our conversations and work. Sorting through an issue list is not an easy task, because we need to balance critical need and the probability of active congregational interest with the likelihood of success. Although there may be glorious martyrdom to pursue issues with little prospect of success, it is hardly a prudent strategy starting out. Still, none of the issue options is easy to engage.

 

We are eager to encourage as many UUs in North Carolina as is possible to respond to this survey. If you would like to include the survey URL on your website or other of your electronic communication outlets, merely copy the address above. It might take three minutes of your time to complete the survey.

 

Unitarian Coastal Fellowship Workshop: In September, UCF convened a workshop titled: Church and State: How Does a Church Take A Stand on Political Issues?. The Rev. John Saxon, Raleigh, and Doug Rhodes, Eno River, conducted that meeting of about 50 people during a Saturday afternoon. Although such meetings do have minor costs associated with them, this sort of service might be a good thing to contemplate at the Cluster level. UCF invited non-UUs, as well. There are both pros and cons to this. Personally, I thought that it added to the richness. The Episcopal attendees are now partners and are going back to add Justice to their mission statement.

 

What Is Going On: As you look at your Social Justice programs and activities, please share your plans and events with this Legislative Ministry. Shared ideas and inspirations are a great help to other UU congregations. Extend your reach – you will find many partners who will “lean in” and are eager to work with you.

 

Here’s The Thing: Sharpening our focus and selecting several policy issues to work on, as a beginning, helps us to move toward doing something. It gives us something concrete to build on. But, it also invites us to take yet another step beyond the sorting. We need to determine how we might work together as individuals and as committed congregations and move forward.

 

Weather Report: It is important to note that the political environment is changing. State polls reflect a rejection of recent legislative actions and of the so-called leaders who authorized them. We have a governor who must now buy advertising time defending Voter ID and Education legislation. The Legislature is whispering a paltry 2% raise for teachers during the next election year. The statewide teacher walk-in this Monday to talk with parents about the budget consequences to public education is supported by the PTA. Both have turned deaf ears to threats by Assembly members. Jason Thigpen, who is challenging fellow Republican U.S. Rep. Walter Jones in the 3rd Congressional District, is switching his party affiliation, and wrote a blistering assessment of his former party’s legislative actions. Straws in the wind as these developments may be, they are part of a mix that strengthens the Biblical bricks we will make to rebuild the

 

House of North Carolina that the hungry wolves cannot blow down. You probably remember both stories. Both had happy endings.

 

 

 

Actions You Can Take: Voter ID and Registration tools are found on our Legislative Ministry website. Click on Issues, Current Priority Issues section for materials and kits from non-partisan Democracy NC. They encourage their use. No prior permission is needed.

 

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: September 5, 2013

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 

Many of us are realizing that summer is coming to an end; our getaways are over, and the kids are returning to school. We are, however, also returning to a world and a state that remains in crisis. We have witnessed many actions during the 2013 NC legislative session, which have moved our fair state backward in time and portend disastrous results. Families at risk are “told” they are the cause of budgetary stringency and are the targets for “reform” with crude and heartless cutbacks. There are other egregious assaults on access to the voting booth, cuts to education, opportunity -- the list goes on. We have read and heard about this debacle in North Carolina from the far reaches of our country: Bloomberg Businessweek, The New York Times, Seattle Times, NPR, and many more national outlets. There is more “debacle” to come.

The progressive house of respect, inclusion, and yes, love, that are the foundation of a beloved community now appears to us as startling rubble in a once promising and just neighborhood. So, we begin again to repair the damage caused by the most recent political hurricane and take stock of where we are and where we are called to go.

            Our Attitude: It is okay to be angry and depressed, but these emotions rarely produce creative and effective solutions. We must rediscover and embrace that deep wellspring of good will, that confidence that “we shall overcome” with new resolve and hard work from within each of us and within our congregations. We must feel good about our goals and the struggle. Our focus needs to be riveted on our vision of a beloved community and state that is driven by our values and our principles, and not be distracted by how bad things are. This is, after all, joyful work. This is good work to do.

             Our Tools and Strategies: As we continue our journey, we need to remind ourselves that we are not alone. We are, in fact, in community with other UUs, other faith communities and policy organizations across this state. These are thick and thorny issues that require more than rallies. To challenge regressive thought and action, we know what we are against, but we also know what we are for. But, beyond the sound bites of those positions, we need to learn and to fortify our beliefs and goals with substantive arguments and effective strategies that engage the independent and the moderate conservative. Congregations need also to have a way and the courage to be publically present. We must build these bridges if we are to have a hope of changing the way things are run in this state for the next ten years.

            Here’s The Thing: Efforts by committed individuals can do a lot. Congregational action and public Statements of Witness can greatly support that individual effort. Congregations joining in common cause with other congregations can do even more.

 

            When we join with partners, like the NAACP, the NC Council of Churches and other issue-focused organizations, we will bring with us talented and committed individuals. We also bring committed congregations with an already enviable track record of justice intervention and service, and are willing and able to take public stands. They will welcome our presence and our courage. They will also ask what we are bringing to the party. There are 5,000 of us (plus friends), from 34 UU congregations in North Carolina. That collective, when focused on pressing issues of our state, can make a powerful difference.

 

What seems to stand in our way is the possibility that our congregations appear as independent silos, or, isolated kingdoms of hope and love, surrounded by parking lot moats. Our ministers are in collegial relationship, but few members and lay leaders venture beyond our confines. Our Clusters have amazing potential as venues for coming together for mutual support and for common initiatives. This Legislative Ministry focused as it is on public policy matters within North Carolina can become a useful statewide network for strengthening our social justice programs. It can also serve as an information resource and as a nexus for coordinated action.

 

            Actions We Can Take:

 

1.    A number of our congregations are celebrating members who participated in Moral Mondays and other demonstrations in 2013. They honor these individuals, because of their courage, dedication, and because they are living their values in a public way. Leaders also want to know who they are, and thereby, enlarge the circle of Social Justice advocates beyond individuals they usually rely upon for this kind of witness. The Community Church of Chapel Hill, The UU Congregation of Fayetteville, Eno River UU Fellowship in Durham and others are doing this. There was a surprising number of UUs who went to Washington or joined others in cities and towns across North Carolina to commemorate the first fifty years since the March On Washington. If your congregation is counting these Social Justice Exemplars, please send your results to Doug Rhodes (see below). We salute them. Add them to your burgeoning Social Justice Honor Roll.

 

2.    We need to examine issues and realities that confront us, move to action, and share our thoughts and plans with other congregations. There are, of course, many issues. We need to anticipate so-called Nullification efforts by the General Assembly in the next session. Among the issues in the “here and now” that have been shared here by others have to do with voter suppression (I.D. law and registration) and the state’s response to immigration/path to citizenship that may be on the docket next year. For many of us, we cannot wait and hope that courts will strike down legislative action. How might that conversation in your congregations move to a plan for action? Please share, so others might move forward, as well. The League of Women’s Voters (www.lwv.org) is already moving out. They are regionally deployed in our state. How are we reaching out?

 

3.    We need also to intensify our efforts to reverse the negative and harmful health care decisions made by our legislature on behalf of the 500,000 NC citizens who were intentionally left out of the humane circle of health care. Social Justice leaders in Charlotte are to be supported and encouraged. We need to be in partnership with them in this effort.

 

4.    Monitor the www.NAACPNC.org and NC Council of Churches website www.ncchurches.org to know what they are doing and determine how their advocacy can inspire our own actions. One great phrase on the Council of Churches’ website that should also be ours: “Disturbing the Peace”. Their purpose: “We make our home at the intersection of faith, social justice, and policy here in North Carolina.” Read that again. Although our belief systems may only overlap, it is abundantly clear that our values and our principles are joined. That’s our home, too. We are partners in the social justice struggle. That’s what our UU Legislative Ministry of North Carolina is all about.

 

5.    On September 28 and 29, the Unitarian Coastal Fellowship, Morehead City, is holding a public workshop for the community and surrounding congregations and organizations. Title: Politics & Religion – Church and State: How Does A Church Take A Stand on Political Issues? Rev. John Saxon, Raleigh, and Doug Rhodes, Eno River, are workshop leaders. Registration by Sept. 21. Contact Heather Sargent, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. $5 donation appreciated.

 

Quote: “If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost: that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.” Henry David Thoreau

 

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

 

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: May 27, 2013

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

 

This is Memorial Day. We all offer our profound thanks and gratitude for those men and women who have served in the military, are serving, and especially, those who are wounded in body and spirit, and those who had their futures taken from them and their loved ones by what we call the Supreme Sacrifice. Many of us were greatly moved by the Memorial ceremonies on the Mall in Washington last evening. The sacred, it was said, lives in our memory and in our actions.

Esse Quam Videri … And … The Zip-Ties That Bind: Seventh-Grade Tar Heels may have learned that Esse Quam Videri is the motto of North Carolina. It is a prominent part of our Great Seal of North Carolina. It means “To be, rather than to seem.” We adults might ponder our personal mottos to determine how our spiritual justice journey – personal as well as congregational – proceeds from (or to) Esse Quam Videri.

Moral Mondays are getting wonderfully out of hand. By now, the fifth and the largest of the demonstrations, so far, is planned for next Monday, June 3rd. Congregations, policy-related organizations, and individual progressives have joined the North Carolina NAACP that is leading this effort across the state. This movement is growing and is beginning to happen in cities across North Carolina. Kirk Ross, (in My View, Chapel Hill News, May 26, 2013) said it best: “And if you think for a second that their (demonstrator) convictions and the convictions of thousands of other like-minded people across this state are going to fade, you’re ignoring what history teaches us about movements like these.” Important and significantly, in Ross’ observation, he said: “And almost everyone, whether they were there to be arrested or not, was there for someone else.” Full Stop.

Facebook and other social media are filling us in on planning, carpools and bus arrangements from Charlotte, Asheville, and points East and West, as well as more locally based demonstrations. Check out your social network connections to see about local efforts and transportation arrangements. See also: http://www/naacpnc.org.

Current Changes: The time for assembling at the Bicentennial Mall has changed to 5:00 p.m. from 5:30. The location for the 3:00 p.m. orientation for those who wish to join the civil disobedience part of the demonstration has changed to: The Martin Street Baptist Church, 1001 E. Martin Street, Raleigh. So far, just over 150 zip-ties have been used in the arrest of concerned citizens of North Carolina – The sound of zip-ties tightening around willing wrists represents the first stanza of a new anthem for justice.

 Katy Munger of Progress NC contacted this UU Legislative Ministry, offering assistance and partnership in promoting Moral Mondays and future initiatives that we, and they, might work on together.

Asheville and UUs at Black Mountain are far from idle. Last Monday, 20 to 30 Faith Leaders for a Just Society in Asheville and the surrounding area, held a press conference in front of the courthouse downtown to voice concerns about the passage of so many bills by our state legislature that are harmful to the poor and vulnerable. They proclaimed a common vision between all faith traditions of “caring for the least of these”. Rev. Mark Ward and Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, UU Church of Asheville, and Michael Carter and Monroe Gilmore from the UU Congregation of Swannanoa Valley, Black Mountain, attended. Plans for buses from Asheville for next week’s Moral Monday are being shared as we write. Please let us know of UU initiatives in these and other areas.

 Here’s the Thing: Siyahamba – We are marching, marching.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: May 18, 2013

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

Promising Progressive Rumbles: The old saw asks, “If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?” Answer: Pilgrims. Well, although the ravages of our legislative pollen season have caused far more damage than the yellow showers of April, there are affirming signs that the progressive leviathan is stirring from its winter slumber. Patrick Henry’s speech at St. John’s Church in Richmond reminds us of an earlier call:

“…Gentlemen may cry, Peace, Peace – but there is no peace. The war is actually begun! The next gale that sweeps from the north will bring to our ears the clash of resounding arms! Our brethren are already in the field! Why stand we here idle? What is it that gentlemen wish? What would they have? Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, Almighty God! ...”

Maybe, a bit over the top for us, even though the situation in North Carolina is grave. We are, however, anything but idle. Groups are speaking out; and they are marching. Not just individuals, but congregations are moving to action. It appears many no longer believe they are involved by merely cheering others on.

Moral Mondays: The NAACP of NC http://www.naacpnc.org will hold its fourth (4th) Moral Monday March THIS MONDAY at 5:30 pm on the Bicentennial Mall, across the street from the NC General Assembly, 16 W. Jones Street, Raleigh. This is a “pray-in, sing-in, and teach-in. They will keep this up through the end of this disastrous session. Their “shout-out” is: Forward Together … Not one Step Back.

It’s not just their slogan; it is also ours in full solidarity. Last week, more than 300 people from all sorts of churches and synagogues came. UUs were there, from Raleigh, Eno River, and Community Church Chapel Hill (and perhaps, others) – some with church banners raised. Last week, the arrests accelerated. Quite a number of ministers and other clergy were jailed, including our own Rev. John Saxon, Raleigh. Also in the police detainment bus were three nationally known history professors, military veterans, college students, and other members of the public. In fact, out of the 300 or so citizens, 49 were arrested, doubling the previous number to 100, from the previous two rallies.

The News and Observer noted the event:

“Republican legislators who thought the “Moral Mondays” protests in the Legislative Building were a flash in the pan might bring their sunglasses to work from now on. It appears the protesters’ little light will continue to shine. … The scene in the legislature early Monday evening called to mind the Peter, Paul and Mary anthem of protest from some years back, part of which went, “Have you been to jail for justice, I want to shake your hand, ‘cause sitting in and lying down are ways to take a stand, have you sung a song for freedom, or marched that picket line, have you been to jail for justice, then you’re a friend of mine….”

Sympathetic and a bit humorous, the newspaper could use a bit more outrage as a loyal and protective Fifth Estate. Like the NC Council of Churches, the NAACP-NC is a willing and eager partner when our commitments intersect. They seek our support. See you Monday night.

Policy Advocates Sought: The issues we UUs in North Carolina seek to pursue together are able to move forward for all of our benefit only if a small number of us step forward to keep us informed about developments, legislative calendars, and basic What can I do? practical suggestions conveyed in a timely manner. That’s what our volunteer Policy Advocates do. Needed are two, three, or more such individuals, who might step forward for each issue. At the moment, the Environment and Climate Change issue has a couple of people who are considering doing just that. Because this task is new, the group will give shape to the area of interest – its breadth and depth – and some initial ideas about moving forward. There also have been inquiries about Immigration Reform and Poverty. The Voter Rights and Suppression issue has had similar inquiries. The Charlotte Justice Action group has continued its work about the Medicaid Expansion issue. If you or your congregation and Social Justice Council would like to work on these or the other issues, please contact Doug Rhodes.

Reynolds Shareholder Meeting Demonstration in Winston-Salem and Farm Labor: You may have heard, or even participated in, the recent demonstration at the Reynolds meeting. Over 300 people came to the meeting, including clergy, students, and many other community allies. Among the concerns expressed by the group inside the meeting had to do with ensuring that human trafficking doesn’t exist in the Reynolds supply chain, and that treatment and conditions the farm workers encounter, daily, are improved. The website address for the Farm Labor Organizing Committee is http://www.supportfloc.org. For those in the Triangle area, there will be a benefit concert on June 15th, at the Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (ERUUF) in Durham.

Here’s The Thing: Across this great state of ours, there are UUs who are committed and passionate about the issues we have set as priorities. More issues can be covered only if a few of us step forward as Policy Advocates. There is much to be done. In Charlotte, we have heard that the state legislature intends to take over the city-run airport. In Asheville, we hear that this same group of statesmen wishes to take over authority of the city’s water utility. They’ve already stripped the city’s control over its regional airport and are now in the process of appropriating the land. Perfectly legal, they say. Maybe, it is a good thing (Not). We need to hear from UUs about the corresponding implications for city budgetary challenges for education and support for the less fortunate. Have local UUs weighed in on this challenge to local control? I’m thinking about the Capital One’s commercial: “What’s in Your Wallet?” This isn’t just local gossip; the stories have hit Bloomberg Businessweek (5/6-6/12).

If you have Social Justice projects underway or accomplished this year, let us know. We need to share in your triumphs and spread enabling goodwill and Good News across our UUNC Network, and maybe, pitch in. If your congregation has taken a public stand on one of the issues confronting our state, let us know.

There must be stages of public policy angst. Clearly, some of us have moved from dismay, intimidation, denial, helplessness, fun-poking, and anger, and are experiencing more affirming feelings that nurture new resolve, maybe defiance, and taking productive steps in solidarity with others, other UU congregations, and in partnership with other organizations. That’s keeping the faith in a more positive way that builds our beloved community and, yes, our state. That faith, however, is strengthened with affirming and effective action. Step forward. Let us hear your voice.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter list, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: April 16, 2013

Special Thoughts, Today, For Those Who Were Slain And Injured In Boston

Greetings To Our Ministers And Lay Leaders Across North Carolina

Yet Another Call To Action: There were 200+ of us assembled at St. Mark’s United Methodist Church in Raleigh on April 11th. It was the annual meeting of the North Carolina Council of Churches. It was transformed into a Legislative Seminar. As you might expect, representatives from many denominations were there. Not members, but UUs were there: The Rev. John Saxon, Raleigh, Bev Kawalec and Doug Rhodes, Eno River, and other UUs, whose names I’ve missed. The diversity of people was more than noticeable – so was the unity. Although not a Christian, it was good to be among dedicated progressive Christians.

There were 14 workshops led by top state-policy experts from tax reform, voting rights, health legislation, farm worker issues, immigrant plight, energy and environmental issues, to building relationships and advocacy with our state legislators. Each was substantive, pragmatic, and inspiring. Some conferees had passed the anger stage, believing that the repair of legislative actions these past two months will take a very long time. You had the sense that the recent legislative experience has been a sort of annealing fire that strengthened people’s renewed resolve. Clearly, there was a Call to Arms, but there was a growing sense of defiance and that cool focused dedication to engage. It was a day that we UUs need to create for ourselves, our communities, regionally, or as a statewide conclave.

From The Church House To The State House: The Rev. Joseph Brown, Sr., Elder at the AME Zion Church, offered the morning sermon. He was, predictably, as fiery as he was inspiring. He had a good deal to say about how inspired we are on Sunday morning, but that our dedication to the cause seems to evaporate as we drive home. He had not so gentle thoughts to share about what similarly happens when the Chaplin leaves the Assembly Chamber after the Morning Prayer. The sermon we all should hear is currently on the Council of Church’s website: http://www.ncchurches.org. Audio now, the video will be available online. But, listen to Rev. Brown. The characteristic passion and pain is there. There is also worry and dedication that needs to motivate us – not only as individuals, but also as a network of NC Unitarian Universalists courageously entering the public square and engaging our legislators.

It’s Better Not To Be Poor In North Carolina: Gene Nichol, Director of the Center on Poverty, Work and Opportunity at UNC-CH School of Law was awesome. Some of you may have heard him speak before. He told of his odyssey along with The Rev. Frank Graham around North Carolina. He spoke movingly about the plight of farm workers, widows, the disabled, and single parents working multiple jobs to barely put any food on their family’s table. These are the people that the legislators have referred to as the lazy poor. The North Carolina statistics he shares are well known to those who follow these things. Go to the Council’s website, click on his speech. Move your cursor to about the 4-minute mark to avoid (if you wish) his award ceremony. The whole presentation and speech lasts a mere 13 minutes. Listen and ponder why some of us remain concerned, but idle.

Here’s The Thing: We are not idle. Our Social Justice programs and our interdictions of poverty and need are equal, and better, than many such efforts. We have much to be proud of. The clients we serve in the barrios are thankful, but that work is sometimes invisible to the rest of our congregation. As we continue to defer to individual Social Justice journeys, we UUs, as UU congregations, are easily isolated, because we have no collective voice. Fundamental to moving forward is partnering with organizations that have intersecting interests, values, and experience. As they say, “I get that.” Partnering, however, is different from finding our own collective voice. It was instructive to know that these Christian congregations have taken public stances and have mobilized on their own, in addition to working with the Council of Churches. We need to do the same. We need to do more than encouraging individual members to show up at rallies or to do their own thing. These encouragements are essential and foundational steps, but we must do more.

Both the sermon and the luncheon speech need to be downloaded for each of our congregations and shared as an RE teaching moment for adults and youth. It’s free and doesn’t violate copyright. That’s why the Council put it there. TED Talks are wonderful, but they lack the passion that stirs the blood. We need to step in front of our passion for understanding and move to action.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: April 10, 2013

Greetings to our ministers and lay leaders across North Carolina           

The Future: Does it appear to you that Your Future is rapidly passing before your eyes? This is quite different from the folklore about our last moments. In the last month and a half, our legislature has proposed and also passed a late-winter blizzard of restrictive, if reactionary laws; it’s hardly a ”do-nothing” session, so far. Progressive optimists suggest that legislators know their time and sway are limited. Others of us are painfully aware that these setbacks will take a decade or more to return our state to a vision of a bright and inclusive future. Where are you on this continuum?

Scholars for a Progressive North Carolina: Late last month, encouragement came with the creation of this new group. These are well-known profs from Triangle universities. Their call for solidarity came from a forum held on the Duke campus (with press), that decried the legislative agenda. Topics ranged from education, Medicaid Expansion, Voter ID, gun contol, and a careful look at NC history. Hodding Carter III, was blunt, but he also placed the blame on liberals who had become self-satisfied and complacent, and excusing themselves from entering the public forum. “It requires people to get off their butts, not to come to a meeting… (and) applaud, but to do what is necessary to find their public voices.”

Strengthening UU Voices in the Public Square: Last Saturday, Community Church of Chapel Hill, Eno River UU Fellowship, and UU Fellowship of Raleigh sponsored a workshop attended by nearly 100 UUs, that prepared them for action. Held at Eno River, the Rev. Dr. Paul Rasor, a UU minister and Director of the Center for the Study of Religious Freedom at Virginia Wesleyan College helped us find the words and to answer the call for social justice action. His book: Reclaiming Prophetic Witness – Liberal Religion in the Public Square, (Amazon) offered us strategies and important UU history that calls us to social justice and overcoming oppression.

Legislative Ministry Steering Committee: Our steering committee is beginning its work to give shape to this project. Still adding members, the Committee now includes: Ann Barefield, Winston-Salem, The Rev. Lisa Bovee-Kemper, Asheville, Tom Dessereau, Asheville, Janet Owen, Winston-Salem, Nancy Proctor, Kitty Hawk and OBX Common Good, The Rev. John Saxon, Raleigh, Steve Scroggin, Winston-Salem, The Rev. Lisa Romantum Schwartz, Winston-Salem, Doug Rhodes, Eno River, Durham. Our task is to establish a formal mission statement, create efficient communication systems, and prepare protocols and task descriptions that will guide our volunteer work. During the next few months, we will create a network of two or three liaisons from each congregation, who will serve as our local contacts and can advise us in our work. We continue to seek volunteers to monitor and inform us about each of the suggested issues on our website. These Lead Advocates must be passionate about their selected issue and comfortable writing and provoking us about them. If you would like to work in a group on a particular issue or justice area, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..">This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Here’s the thing: We can do something about our future. The trick, it seems, is finding our will, carving out time from our other commitments, and connecting with NC UUs and others. We need to awake from our prelapsarian innocence; speak publically about public policy matters that relate to our UU values and publically support those whom we serve in our local social justice programs each week.

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: March 9, 2013

Greetings to our ministers and lay leaders across North Carolina

 Can you drive a car the same time you are assembling it?

There is this beautiful tension between the laborious processes of describing, okay, promoting, the usefulness of an idea or project and the need or opportunity for putting the project to immediate use by way of concerted action. Although shifting from Park to Drive needs to be preceded by a clear and cautious view through the windshield, moving forward on the journey has a way of affirming the vehicle’s utility or value.

In this case, opportunities for action are arriving before our Steering Committee can establish guidelines and before adequate communication channels are established. Your forbearance is sought, given that this communication comes swiftly after the March 6th Update.

 Medicaid Expansion Petition: The Social Justice Advocacy Group at the UU Church of Charlotte is not giving up on reversing the action by our NC Legislature for blocking participation in Medicaid Expansion. They are circulating a petition that as of this morning had over 8,000 online signatures, and is growing. Mike O’Sullivan and Rev. Hausman seek to expand that number throughout the state. Our bet is that they won’t rest until every UU, every corporate citizen, every human in our state has had an opportunity to do something to undo what has been enacted. If you would like to sign this petition, go to: http://signon.org/sign/medicaid-expansion-3?source=c.em.mt&r_by=5630453 . They encourage us to share the link with others, post it on Facebook, or write a letter to the editor of you local newspaper, to your state legislator (see our website for addresses) and our Governor at 20301 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-0301.

 Advisory: The platform this group is using is an entirely legitimate one. You need to know, however, that Signon.org is owned by Moveon.org, and that signing the petition also means that you agree to receive weekly communications from MoveOn. Although that might be a good thing for you, know they have strict privacy policies and an unsubscribe option.

Voter ID Hearing: Late notice, butthe NC House leadership will hold a public hearing that will be held this Tuesday at 4 PM at Legislative Office Building Room 643,

330 N Salisbury St, Raleigh, NC 27603. This is a step toward adopting legislation that will eventually require voters to show a photo ID when they vote in person. House Elections Law Committee Chair Rep. David Lewis indicated that legislators are slowing down and moving away from a harsh ID bill because of strong opposition from elected leaders, civic organizations and voters.

If you want to speak at Tuesday's hearing, you must sign up in advance. You can sign up on the web using this link: http://www.ncleg.net/Applications/RTS/hce.aspx. Sign up is first-come first-served, so be sure to do it as soon as possible. Spots are filling up!

You can also call Rep. David Lewis’s office to sign up to speak at the hearing. The phone number is 919-715-3015. Give them your name, address, and phone number. If no one answers, leave the same information on the voice mail and ask them to call you back to confirm that you are signed up to speak.

Connections:

Question from a UU from UUs of Transylvania County, Bevard, “Are there people working on the Gun Control issue? She would like to be in touch – and so would the rest of us. Please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for connection.

 If there are people who are concerned about the Voter ID issue or the Driver’s License issue, please also contact Doug Rhodes to connect with others.

 Remember, this is not a “dating service.” We have work to do together.

 Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina 

Update: March 6, 2013

Greetings to our ministers and lay leaders across North Carolina

There’s Good News and There’s Bad News -- Soy un inmigrante!

            The Good: Immigration Matters. It was the beginning of a conversation. It was a forum last week, created by the Center for International Understanding – part of the UNC System – to listen to the surprisingly converging views about Immigration Reform from business leaders, education professionals, Hispanic organizations, the national Chamber of Commerce, political leaders, and political pundits. Added to the 300+ people gathered at NC State, were venues in Charlotte and Winston-Salem through a satellite feed. Tweets back and forth made for a statewide conversation. In addition to businesses and associations, Eno River Unitarian Universalist Fellowship and First Presbyterian Church ofDurham were also sponsors. The meeting alert was announced on our UULMNC.NET website.

The nugget, here, is that everyone had a realistic view that Comprehensive Immigration Reform is more likely, now, than previously thought. Rough road? Yes, but possible. In the mix of the formula were: More secure borders, an efficient E-Verify system, a workable guest worker system, a reasonable path to legalization and citizenship, access to health care, and education. NC Public Radio’s Frank Stasio moderated and observed that everyone was at least (and finally) using similar value systems and language.

CNN’s Ana Navarro observed that most thinking people are sympathetic, but not engaged. Progress is possible, she said, if we keep the pressure on our leaders. A required visit is a trip to www.welcomingAmerica.org: A fabulous organization doing productive multicultural work in Colorado and elsewhere built on relationships, welcoming proclamations, and providing us with important tools.

The choice, one speaker said is “Good Current Laws, but Bad People versus Bad Current Laws, but Good People.” We raised up the Good People.

 The Bad: The “No Lawful Status” Fuchsia Stripe. You might have noticed the recent action by our state legislature that a fuchsia stripe will be added to new "Immigrant" driver’s licenses with the words "No Lawful Status". Under the federal Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, more than 15,000 North Carolinians are newly eligible for driver’s licenses. The license designed for DACA drivers and approved by new Transportation Secretary Tony Tata includes a bold pink header and the words “LIMITED TERM” and “NO LAWFUL STATUS” in red. Three ministers, a rabbi in the Triangle area and a representative from the NC Council of Churches have raised public protests. More public statements and public protests (sadly after the law's passing) are occurring, including the addition of pink tape to our own licenses. Will we stand idle? We need, probably, to take a deep breath, find partner organizations, and have the courage to make public statements based on our conscience, our Principles, and our commitment to welcoming a multicultural reality. We need to lead. So much is going on, and so little time. If our congregations will not be making public statements in support of the people we serve in our Social Justice programs, perhaps we can tape our own licenses. What's next? "I am a NO STATUS Immigrant" badge? New licenses issued to other non-citizens will also have the fuchsia front, though presumably DOT may omit the legal status reference. North Carolina, so far, is apparently the only state to have done this...so far. Rabbi Friedman of Durham recalls an earlier time.... something about having to wear a star... Frankly, this is not an over-the-top observation.

 Opportunities:

1.This is yet another example of why two or three UUs in our state who are interested and passionate about the matter of Immigration Reform might step forward to monitor and inform us about these and other related developments through our website.

2.Is there something we all can do? It matters not whether we take coordinated or individual congregation action. Letters to your state legislator, a letter to the editor of your newspaper as an individual, but better, as a congregation is a good step. Release a Proclamation.

3.We need volunteers to do the same monitoring and informing UUs across the state about the other issues we seek to follow. We need to be alerted to these legislative actions before they are voted. These issues are listed on our website.

4.Our website is the communication backbone supporting our mission. We need also to find additional effective channels for conversations about each issue and about our collective mission, and how we can improve what we are doing. Perhaps, a general Facebook group would be a good beginning, and later, conversation groups for each issue. Moderators will be needed. Please volunteer.

5.We also need a person or two from each congregation who will serve as local contact people. We need to listen carefully to you and respond to questions, concerns, and strategic ideas as this project moves forward.

6.We are also seeking ministers and lay leaders who will agree to become members of our Steering Committee. No meetings, but you will be part of the e-mail conversation that will give shape and substance to the project.

7.As always, we seek people who would like to be added to this newsletter list for periodic updates.

 If you are able to help with this project in some small or larger way, contact Doug. 

Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship   Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of North Carolina

Update: February 15, 2013

Greetings to our ministers and lay leaders across North Carolina           

A Squint at Current Events:

Forging public policy in North Carolina is well underway at the beginning of this legislative session. You, no doubt, are reading about the results of this week’s deliberations or learned about them on the local news.

On Valentine’s Day, the North Carolina House voted to block Medicaid Expansion. You are well aware of the facts that this decision will affect an estimated 500,000 citizens who do not have health insurance. There was also an estimate that the Exchanges and the Expansion would have created approximately 23,000 new jobs in our state. Our state currently ranks 50th, having the lowest rate of Medicaid growth in America. It seems that we have that honor all to ourselves.

Although that capped a week of lawmaking, there was a vote on Wednesday to cut unemployment insurance by 35%. This was preceded by a Chamber of Commerce press conference on February 6th that was led by the NC Retail Merchants Association. Their representative announced that the current level of Unemployment Insurance, let alone, a proposed increase was “Too Luxurious”. Their solution? – A statewide canned food drive. Look it up.

So, what do we have at week’s end? Our public policy makers are seeking to reduce Unemployment Benefits for families; they have blocked the provision of healthcare benefits for a half-million citizens, and the solution suggested by the Retail Merchant’s Association to reduce hunger in our state is donated canned food bought at their Retail Merchant Association stores. Not a good week. There were rallies, petitions, and demonstrations, but they came too late. They may not have changed minds, but at least people found their voice in the public square.

Questions for Reflection and Action:

How might we have stood up for the very families we already serve and work with in our Social Justice Programs?

What might have moved us to action beyond conversation within our congregations?

What might we have done together as a group of 5,000 UUs (ministers and lay members) in 34 congregations across the state?

Our challenge is not to feel guilty or indignant about our inaction, or even a missed opportunity. Our challenge is to move forward together; to have an early warning system of volunteers who are passionate about one or more of the major areas of concern, who will inform us, motivate us, and show us the way to enlarge our comfort zones and speak out about injustice.

UULMNC.NET:

Our new website is published with its initial content. Needed now are volunteers who would like to take modest responsibility for adding content or keeping specific sections up to date. You can do this in the comfort of your home with your shoes off. Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. We also seek your suggestions for making this site more useful.

More Opportunities:

1.We are also seeking ministers and lay leaders who will agree to become members of our Steering Committee. No meetings, but you will be part of the e-mail conversation that will give shape and substance to the project.

2.We also need a person or two from each congregation who will serve as local contact people. We need to listen carefully to you and respond to questions, concerns, and strategic ideas as this project moves forward.

3.As always, we seek people who would like to be added to this newsletter list for periodic updates.

If you are able to help with this project in some small or larger way, contact Doug.

 Doug Rhodes, member Eno River UU Fellowship   Contact: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

If you would like to unsubscribe or to be added to this Newsletter, please contact Doug.

 

 

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