Social Justice is an important part of our ministry as a church. Our church several ways to engage in social mission and social justice defined by our social mission policy. Some of them are explained below. The process for each is defined in our Social Mission Policy.
Annual Social Justice Theme
In 2017 our church began choosing an annual social justice theme for the year. The themes that have been chosen are:
2018-2019: Peace and Conflict
2017-2018: Environment (Special focus: Water Justice)
Special Collections and Agency Support
We choose four (or sometimes more, in case of a tie) agencies to hold a special collection for during the year.
The agencies for 2018-2019 are:
- The Aware Shelter
- The Brooklyn Food Pantry
- Planned Parenthood
- The Jackson Interfaith Shelter
- The Jackson Personal Care Ministry
The agencies for 2017-2018 are:
- The Aware Shelter
- Jackson Personal Care Ministry
- The Jackson Pride Center
- Planned Parenthood
Other agencies we have supported include:
- The Aware Shelter (chosen all 14 years)
- Planned Parenthood (chosen 10 years)
- The Brooklyn Food Pantry (chosen 10 years)
- The Jackson Interfaith Shelter (chosen 8 years)
- Jackson Personal Care Ministry (chosen 5 years)
- Jackson Interfaith Peacekeepers (chosen 4 years — group no longer exists)
- The Jackson Pride Center (chosen 1 year)
- Fair Trade Coffee (chosen 1 year to start our fair trade coffee program)
We also hold emergency special collections for situations like natural disasters or crises in the community.
We also have voted to include the following agencies on our list from which we choose agencies to support. These agencies, and the ones listed above, are eligible for us to do social mission activities with or for, without needing congregational or board approval for a project.
- AWARE SHELTER – Aware Shelter has been consistently chosen for our quarterly collections. Individual members are involved.
- BIG BROTHERS BIG SISTERS – We worked with Big Brothers, Big Sisters for one JXN Community Forum. Individual members have had past involvement.
- BROOKLYN FOOD PANTRY – We have had special collections, food drives, and volunteers work at the Brooklyn Food Pantry. Individual members are involved.
- CHURCH WORLD SERVICE – CROP – We have had members participate in CROP walks as a group. Individual members are involved.
- COMMUNITY ACTION AGENCY (JACKSON COUNTY) – Individual members have worked for CAA, and CAA has participated in JXN Community Forums.
- THE CLARA BARTON CENTER FOR DIABETES EDUCATION – The AUUW Group of our church used to donate regularly as an independent group to the Clara Barton Center, which was originally created by the Universalist women’s groups nationally.
- DISABILITY CONNECTIONS CENTER FOR INDEPENDENT LIVING – We have worked with disAbility Connections CIL for a church audit and for adult religious education. We held a JXN Community Forum with them in 2007.
- FAIR TRADE COFFEE – Our church supports the use of and sells Fair Trade coffee.
- FAMILY SERVICE AND CHILDREN’S AID – Our minister has been a member of their board, they have participated in JXN Community Forums, and presented a worship service at UUCEL.
- JACKSON INTERFAITH SHELTER – They were chosen for a level one quarterly collection and our 2007 Christmas Eve offering. Minister & individual members are involved.
- JACKSON PERSONAL CARE MINISTRY – We regularly donate items and volunteer at JPCM.
- JACKSON PRIDE CENTER – We have members on the advisory committee and who are individual or family members of the Pride Center.
- LEADER DOGS FOR THE BLIND – The AUUW Group of our church also used to donate regularly to this organization, which is based in Michigan.
- MICHIGAN UU SOCIAL JUSTICE NETWORK – This is a state-wide advocacy network for Unitarian Universalists.
- PARENTS, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS OF LESBIAN AND GAYS (PFLAG) – JACKSON – PFLAG awarded us an award, and we initiated an attempt to work together on a JXN Community Forum (that was ultimately cancelled). Minister & individual members are involved.
- PLANNED PARENTHOOD – JACKSON CLINIC – Minister & individual members are involved, and PP has been chosen once for a special collection.
- STANDING ON THE SIDE OF LOVE – This is the UUA’s social justice organization that focuses on identity-based oppression.
- UNITARIAN UNIVERSALIST SERVICE COMMITTEE (UUSC) – We have had Guest at Your Table and Justice Sunday programs yearly.
Social Justice Projects
Our church engages in different social justice projects that are proposed by members of the congregation. Actions our church has taken in this category include:
- Voter Registration Drives (2004, 2005)
- Endorsing the UUCEL JXN Community Forum programs (2005)
- Using only Fair-Trade Coffee (2006)
- Volunteering for the Jackson Personal Care Ministry (ongoing)
Statements of Conscience
Our church occasionally takes a stand on an issue, by congregational vote. Examples of these include:
- Becoming a Nuclear-Free Zone (pre-2004)
- Becoming a Welcoming Congregation (2004)
- Opposing Proposal 2, an Anti-Affirmative Action State Constitution Amendment (2004?)
- Support for the November 2008 Michigan ballot initiative on Health Care (2008)
- Hanging a Standing on the Side of Love Banner on our church every June
Actions of Immediate Witness
Lastly, we have a new, but as yet untried, process for responding to urgent issues that come up that our faith community wishes to respond to.