Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action
People's Church in Kalamazoo, MI, is the 2012 recipient of the Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action.
Ten years ago People's Church held an All Church Planning Retreat to develop a justice ministry deeply engaged in their community. In spring 2002 the congregation participated in a Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Social Justice Empowerment Workshop to discern who they wanted to work with and how.
Out of that process they joined an interfaith congregation-based community organization, Interfaith Strategy for Action and Advocacy in the Community (ISAAC). During the first three years of participation nearly twenty members of the congregation were trained by the organizing network and a Core Team of eight members formed. An all congregation listening campaign took place involving more than 200 people to decide the focus of the organization. People's received ISAAC's Leadership Award for their role in securing funding from the city and state for early childhood education, as well as bringing a multi-million dollar grant for the Nurse Family Partnership to Kalamazoo. They also lifted up People’s role in bringing a specific anti-racism focus to ISAAC’s ministry.
The congregation also took part in a community lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) rights campaigns with a Standing on the Side of Love action defending a City Commission a non-discrimination ordinance that was challenged by local conservatives. The repeal was defeated by more than 85% of voters.
People’s received a grant to bring Rev. Dr. Mark Morrison Reed for a weekend workshop on antiracism that helped them form an anti-racism multicultural committee. They used the Examining Our Whiteness curriculum and are currently designing a plan for long-term congregational transformation.
The congregation supports a dynamic and diverse range of justice ministries, including ongoing community organizing with ISAAC on youth violence, drug prevention, affordable housing, and transportation as well as a community prisoner release project, a Green Sanctuary Committee, Habitat for Humanity, Martha's Table—an interfaith weekly program for homeless people supported by eleven congregations, and mentoring at Lincoln Elementary School, where over 20 church members donate one hour per week. People’s is a supporting member of the Michigan UU Social Justice Network. The congregation has also recently begun outreach to the local immigrant community and is learning about immigration policy in preparation for Justice GA.
To learn more, read the complete story.
People's Church in Kalamazoo, MI, will be recognized at the 2012 General Assembly.
The Bennett Award for Congregational Action on Human Justice and Social Action, instituted in 1999 by James Bennett to honor the congregation that has done exemplary work in social justice, is accompanied by a $500 cash award that is presented at General Assembly. Dr. James R. Bennett is professor emeritus of the University of Arkansas and he is the former director of the Gustavus Meyers Center of Human Rights in North America, founded in 1984. Dr. Bennett is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fayetteville, AR. Read about past recipients.
Nominations for 2013 are due March 15th, 2013, and should include:
- cover sheet with congregation's name and address, plus name, title, email address and phone number for person submitting nomination
- a 1-4 page report on the social justice action or program,
- a testimonial from partner organizations or community members where applicable, and
- any relevant documentation and media generated about the effort.
Entries may be submitted electronically to Audra Friend at socialjustice @ uua.org or mailed to:
Unitarian Universalist Association
Office for Congregational Advocacy & Witness
25 Beacon Street
Boston MA 02108
For more information contact socialjustice @ uua.org.
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Wednesday, May 2, 2012.
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