Justice is the theme at USG for April 2017:

Building Coalitions for Justice:  the Role of UUPLAN, the PA Legislative Advocacy Network  

Throughout April, the vital work of building coalitions for justice – a central piece of the advocacy carried out by UUPLAN – will be highlighted in readings, speakers, ministry moments and special events. UUs in PA have found that we can be effective in advocating for legislative and other changes only if we join in broad alliances of faith-based and secular groups including labor, community, immigrant, and veteran justice advocates. The April discussions will share what UUPLAN has done and learned in this process.

Sunday, March 26 – launching of UUA Common Read, 2016-17, books for sale at the social justice table after the Sunday Service à The Third Reconstruction:  How a Moral Movement is Overcoming the Politics of Division and Fear, by Rev. Dr. William Barber II with Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove, (Beacon, 2016).

Unitarian Universalists were electrified at General Assembly 2016 by Rev. Barber’s call for building and sustaining a movement for justice for all people. The Common Read selection committee believes that now is a moment for Unitarian Universalists to answer that call. The Third Reconstruction offers helpful, practical guidance for engaging with justice movements born in response to local experiences of larger injustices. Drawing on the prophetic traditions of the Jewish and Christian scriptures, while making room for other sources of truth, the book challenges us to ground our justice work in moral dissent, even when there is no reasonable expectation of political success, and to do the hard work of coalition building in a society that is fractured and polarized. 

Sunday, April 2 — Presentation from UUPLAN’s Gun Violence Prevention Team, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Daskam Room. This Team studies and shares gun violence statistics and advocates for many practical, common sense policies to reduce gun violence. Recognizing that gun violence disproportionately affects low-income and black communities, we support the goals of the Black Lives Matter movement. Learn about specific legislative goals, short- and long-term challenges, and about how UUs are working in coalitions with positive forces across PA.

Sunday April 9 – Presentation from UUPLAN’s Reproductive Justice Team, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sullivan 1.  Access to quality reproductive health services, the freedom to express one’s sexuality and gender identity are under threat from many legislative initiatives – federally and in Pennsylvania. This Team addresses these human rights issues. Meet the Team’s leaders and learn how coalition-building has strengthened their work.

Sunday April 16 – Presentation from UUPLAN’s Anti-Mass Incarceration Team, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sullivan 1. This Team, born of initiatives from USG’s own Ending Racism Committee, is working across the state on legislation and programs to decrease mass incarceration especially of people of color. The Team opposes unjust laws, unfair sweeps, poor access to employment and inferior education. Learn the latest in this important campaign affecting all communities in Pennsylvania.

Sunday April 23 — Presentation from UUPLAN’s Environmental Justice Team, 12:00 to 1:30pm, Sullivan 1. Based on the UU principle of respect for the interdependent web of all existence, this Team joins in efforts, both symbolic and explicit, to become stewards of the Earth. Learn the latest in works to end fracking, promote alternative energy, and to build a powerful constituency for climate change efforts.

Sunday April 30 — Potluck & Discussion of UU 2016-17 Common Read, The Third Reconstruction, 12:00 to 2:00pm, Dining Room, Assembly Room, Kitchen.  Reverend Barber’s profound work and writings challenge us to build our justice work clearly on our faith, to learn to reach out and build truly interfaith, inter-racial and inter-class coalitions. Dennis Brunn, USG Liaison to UUPLAN and former UUPLAN Director, will lead a discussion of Rev. Barber’s message and guidelines for UU advocates for change.

UUPLAN, or the Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Advocacy Network, is our UU vehicle for bringing our values and principles into the public arena where policies are made affecting all Pennsylvanians.

We engage in education, advocacy and lobbying for social justice in Harrisburg and also in the local district offices of our elected officials. Begun in 2007, today UUPLAN has active members 30 of our state’s 40 UU congregations. We work through “Issue Teams” devoted to effective advocacy in specific areas such as Economic Justice, Environmental Justice and Immigration Justice. We select issues that fit our values and that also provide us realistic opportunities for positive impacts, almost always in coalition with other progressive forces.

For more information on UUPLAN, go to www.uuplan.org