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2003 Recipient: Allen Avenue UU Church of Portland, ME
The Bennett Awards Panel is awarding the 2003 Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action to the Allen Avenue Unitarian Universalist Church in Portland, Maine. This small congregation has an outstanding social justice program that deserves this recognition. Allen Ave. UU is working on a number of issues. They are part of the green sanctuary program. Other elements of their social justice program include church-wide participation and intergenerational involvement, connections between service and advocacy efforts, and interfaith cooperation, particularly wih the Maine Council of Churches and Maine Interfaith Power and Light. This past year the social action committee organized broad congregational participation at rallies to prevent war with Iraq. On Jan. 11th church members attended the Many and One Rally in Lewiston where a hate group had targeted the Somali community. The Allen Ave. congregation also has an outstanding partnership with the Sudanese community in which they have been good allies and helped build schools for children in refugee camps in Uganda. The social action committee has focused on "making social action part of the programming in worship services, religious education, adult enrichment programs, forums and publications." Allen Ave UU was also chosen this year to receive the Northeast District annual award for social justice.