Download the Unitarian Universalist Association's Social Justice Empowerment Handbook (PDF, 147 pages)
...supporting congregational action for transformational social change.
The Social Justice Empowerment Program was launched in 1992. In that time, over 150
congregations have participated in the workshops and many others have used the materials.
Congregational leaders report that the program has helped them to focus, strengthen, and
grow their social justice programs. It has helped them to balance their program with a mix of
service, education, organizing, advocacy, and public witness activities. It has made them
more aware of how to draw on UUA resources and to join in national organizing and
advocacy campaigns. Most of all, ministers and others tell us that the program has helped
bring social justice into the heart of the spiritual life of the congregation.
Since 1992, our association of congregations has continued to develop our effectiveness in
working for social justice and broaden our understandings of what social justice means. The
increased effectiveness can be seen in the fact that over ten percent of our congregations are
now involved in congregation-based community organizations, and many more than that are
working in interfaith coalitions. Thousands of Unitarian Universalists have joined in interfaith
and national advocacy efforts that the UUA has initiated and joined. Our broader (and
deeper) understanding of justice is reflected in the fact that over half of our congregations
are now officially Welcoming (to the bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender community)
Congregations. In 1997, we embarked on an association-wide, anti-racism initiative, and since
then we have started to work on issues affecting people with disabilities. Youth empowerment
is on the rise and social justice activities that include the whole family are being organized.
Most recently our Statement of Conscience on global warming, passed at General Assembly,
represents our deeper commitment to the earth.
A new engaged spirituality has taken hold in our faith, and we are beginning to understand
that to work for social justice is in itself a spiritual practice.
This updated handbook reflects these new understandings. It is designed to help social justice
leaders and advocates be more strategic, to develop collective decision-making, to make good
use of congregational resources, and put our UU faith into action. It incorporates materials
from Inspired Faith—Effective Action (UUA Advocacy and Witness), Facilitating Circles of
Change (Spirit of Action), and other sources.
Our thanks to the Social Justice Empowerment facilitators who have lovingly taken this
program across the country to small fellowships, mid-sized congregations, and large
churches; and to Rev. William Gardiner who established the program.
Special thanks are owed to the Rev. Carole Ann Cole who revised much of the materials and
shepherded this project. To Rev. Cynthia Prescott who formatted the handbook. To Rev. Art
McDonald who provided a new social justice bibliography. And to Charles Zoeller, Rev. Kathy
Huff, Pam Kelly, Carl McCargo, Rev. Ralph Galen, Tom Esch, Pat Butler, and Barb Greve for
their review and comments.
We hope you will find this resource useful for your congregation’s contribution to justice.
Unitarian Universalist Association
Director of the Office for Congregational Advocacy and Witness
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, August 24, 2011.
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