Together, we got the TRUST Act passed and signed into law. We saw the expansion of Detention Center Visitations, with Unitarian Universalists now either running or constituting the majority of participants in more than half the programs in the state. We launched high-quality, affordable immigrant justice trips to the border in October, with three more planned for 2014. And more than 75 UUs turned out for Immigrant Day at the Capitol, more than twice the number as last year!
Following on the heels of the historic passage of the Human Right to Water, we
began working on its implementation. As a leader in the Safe Water Alliance,
UULMCA has worked to ensure our UU values are heard as we ensure the dream
of safe, affordable, sufficient water for daily human needs is met. We are helping
others see that water is a basic human right.
And UULMCA continued to advance LGBTQ equality. With the assistance of attorney Eric Isaacson, UULMCA submitted a legal brief in the Prop 8 marriage equality case before the U.S. Supreme Court. UULMCA has been engaged in this battle from the beginning. What a day that was when we heard that marriage equality is the law of the land in California! (You can read the brief at www.uulmca.org/lgbtq)
Your continued support also allowed us to expand the Cluster UUp initiative, bringing congregations together to work more closely in building justice communities for change. We hosted three Spring Justice trainings across the state in 2013, up from one in 2012. These trainings provide skill-building, issue education and idea sharing opportunities for UU justice leaders in an affordable, accessible, one-day format.
Thanks to your support we graduated the second class of Spiritual Activist Leadership Training (SALT) fellows and held our third annual Walking the Walk Justice Leadership Summit. UULMCA has been more active than ever in taking UU values to the world.
You made all of this possible!
The majority of our funds come from individual California Unitarian Universalists!
Now, after 12 years in existence, we are at a crossroads. This year, Rev. Lindi Ramsden finished her service to UULMCA and we wish her well in her endeavors. I am honored to be serving as the next Executive Director and the opportunity to work with so many UUs as we enter the next stage of our development. I also welcome Patrice Curtis, a graduate of Starr King School for the Ministry, as our first Public Policy and Mobilization Director.
Along with staffing changes we have also finished our strategic planning process. With the input of hundreds of UUs, and having surveyed our partners, we have a new mission; a new set of goals; and renewed commitments to UUs, UU justice leaders, congregations and our allies and partners. This is longer than many year end letters you are receiving, but there is so much crucial activity, we want you and your congregation to be a part of it.
So what does this mean for the justice work UULMCA has been working on?
We will be even more effective in making life better in California. From stopping children from being torn from their parents to ensuring every family has access to clean, affordable water for daily human needs, with your support UULMCA will continue to empower UU voices to make a difference! To better serve UUs and UU congregations, and to increase our combined faith-filled voice – deepening the impact our values have in the world – we are expanding the issues we engage in.
Together we passed the TRUST Act – now we must work in communities across California to ensure its fair implementation. UULMCA launched our first UU Immigrant Justice Trip to the Border in October, with three more planned in 2014. And UULMCA’s
Immigrant Justice Team runs or is responsible for the majority of participants in more than half of the Detention Center Visitation programs in California! This coming spring we are also bringing back the Farmworker Reality Justice Trip, giving UUs a chance to
experience the day-to-day life of migrant workers.
Enacting the Human Right to Water continues to be a priority. As a leader in the Safe Water Alliance, UULMCA will spearhead the UU congregational engagement component of a statewide campaign to education Californians on what the Human Right to Water is and is not and to ensure California’s water policies are in line with our UU values.
UULMCA is also engaging in Climate Justice by connecting environmental justice leaders in UU congregations with our partners in each area of the state. Based on requests from
congregations, we are developing an Environmental Justice curriculum, founded on material from our partners and custom-tailored for California. These materials will help congregations ground their advocacy work and move from individual action to social change!
With income disparity expanding and corporations having more influence over government than individuals, UUs are standing together to make a difference. UULMCA is proud to partner with the UUSC and others in working for meaningful economic reforms at the national level. With our partners in California, we are working on a statewide legislative and policy package to address issues at home. And with our local partners across the state, we are connecting UUs and congregations with allies to advocate for reforms in their backyards. With many congregations utilizing the UUA/UUSC common read Behind the Kitchen Door, UULMCA is helping congregations connect to food chain justice. While California may have the most generous pay and
protections for restaurant workers in the country – with full minimum wage requirements plus tips for wait-staff – there is still MUCH to be done. Most restaurant workers do not receive heath coverage, no matter how many hours they work, and the treatment of migrant workers who supply the food to the restaurants is deplorable.
Using our multi-tiered system of justice-making, UULMCA is going to work:
Partnering with the UUSC and UUA to push for meaningful federal legislation to increase the federal minimum wage and require restaurant workers be paid a more reasonable percentage;
Working with statewide partners and legislators in the poverty caucus to enact policies that promote families and individuals over corporate influence;
Bringing UUs together with our local partners to advocate for policies that put workers first.
Helping congregations and individuals connect their UU to their justice-making through education and experiential learning opportunities.
Marriage is not equality. Equality means being free from bullying in school and
discrimination in society. It means having the same rights as others with the same protections under law. Marriage equality is a huge first step – and yet we still have a long way to go. UULMCA is working on a program to educate and engage UUs in the rising crisis of LGBTQ bullying. Through education and engagement, we are getting the conversation going – join us.
From municipalities across the state to the capitol, we have seen mental health funding
and services for the poor slashed. The passage of the Affordable Care Act did not end the need for a faith-based voice for justice in healthcare, it created new challenges which means that a UU voice is essential. UULMCA is restarting our healthcare issue team to help UUs engage in the “post-Affordable Care Act” work that needs to be done.
In all of these areas, look for UULMCA to continue using our powerful engagement model – one we are uniquely positioned to implement – in which we address issues through education and advocacy at all levels of policy-making. We draw on the strong relationships we have with national partners to leverage our UU voices in federal policy and legislation such as comprehensive immigration reform and federal living wage work.
We lead and participate in statewide coalitions to effectively advocate for our values on policies that impact California families – and then spread to other areas of the country. (This is how we got the Human Right to Water Act and the TRUST Act passed!) And we connect with local partners, such as the Six Wins coalition in the Bay Area and Move LA in southern California, to make UU values heard in local policymaking.
So what does this mean for my congregation – or UU congregations in general?
One of our stated goals is to be an organization congregations utilize to strengthen their justice ministries. UULMCA is working to lead through service. Here are some key ways we are supporting congregations:
Cluster UUp – strengthening ties between congregations and building justice in every corner of the state.
Worship and Faith Development resources – providing congregations with resources for worship and education.
Services and speakers – speakers and facilitators can be provided for Sunday services or for regular committee meetings.
Curriculums and experts – UULMCA is developing curriculums to help congregations delve deeper.
Trainings and programs to strengthen their justice leaders – Spring Justice Trainings across the state combine skill-building, issue-education and shared worship with ongoing cluster support!
What does this mean for UUs and UU Justice Leaders?
Your impact will be magnified more than ever before. The increase in Spring Justice Training programs mentioned earlier will make it easier for UUs to get the skill-building, issue education and support you need to be effective agents for change. UULMCA is also implementing state-of-the-art communications tools. We will launch a revamped website in January giving you up-to-date information on issues and events, with pages dedicated to each major issue as well as each region of the state.
Online activism tools will allow those with limited time to ensure they can make a difference. Monthly eNews updates will keep you up-to-date and allow you to select information on which you want to receive more regular updates.
Of course, 2014 will also mean our fourth annual Walking the Walk Justice Leadership Summit and the graduation of our third class of Spiritual Activist Leadership Training fellows. A Unitarian Universalist grounding for social justice work is so important. Its something that UULMCA provides that many other organizations cannot. Hands-on, relationship-based, UU-rooted justice education and advocacy. Working with other UUs, nearby congregations, and an assortment of local, statewide and national partners, UULMCA makes it possible for UUs to have a massive impact on the world around them.
If you believe it is important to have a progressive, faith-rooted voice for justice, we need your support today.
Your donation is needed now more than ever. As we enter this next stage we are poised to create a UU justice movement that is unparalleled in history. The UU Legislative Ministry of California does so much more than legislation – which is why we are changing our name to the Unitarian Universalist JUSTICE Ministry of California in January. In the meantime, please help make this future possible.
Whether you believe in effective advocacy at all levels of policy-making or you want to ensure the next generation of UU justice leaders is equipped and grounded to take on the battles of tomorrow. Perhaps you believe in strong congregational justice ministries and ensuring congregations can effectively work together to create change. Or maybe you want to ensure UU justice leaders and UUs have access to and participate in education, advocacy and witness that makes life better in California through grassroots empowerment.
Whatever your reason – you understand how important The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry is. Please help us build this vision into a reality by making a tax-deductible donation today. The money donated by our individual supporters like you will determine how much of this vision we can implement.
Remember, most of our funding comes from individual California Unitarian Universalists. Thank you for your continued support and I look forward to working with you to build this future. Please feel free to contact me at 916.441.0018.