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On March 6th, Rev. Josh Pawelek and a delegation from Unitarian Universalist (UU) Society: East, Manchester, CT, participated in an action led by the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care, of which their congregation is a leading member. Dozens of religious leaders, along with groups from their congregations, totaling upwards of 150 people, marched to the State Capitol where they held a rally and hand-delivered a request to Gov. Rell’s staff for a meeting with the governor.

The coalition is pushing for health reform through a proposal before the legislature by the Universal Health Care Foundation of Connecticut. The foundation says the plan, called SustiNet, could insure 98 percent of state residents by 2014.

The group of interfaith clergy read from a collection of 16 statements about the importance of universal health care from various religious traditions to demonstrate the similarity of viewpoints among religious groups representing thousands of state residents. Rev. Pawelek spoke about the long-time commitment of Unitarian Universalists to health care, and drew on the large body of General Assembly resolutions on health care and read from the 2008 Action of Immediate Witness for Single Payor Health Care. Pawelek lifted up that for his largely white middle class congregation and denomination, health care for all is a religious issue not just about valuing all people, but recognizing the inequities that have privileged some while disadvantaging people with low-incomes and many people of color.

Over the past four years, the Universal Health Care Foundation developed relationships with several key groups that would be instrumental in creating broad change in the health system, including medical societies, hospitals, businesses and clergy. Juan Figueroa, the foundation's president, said clergy members are well suited to make a wide range of voices heard.

The action received coverage in the Hartford Courant and Rev. Pawelek’s interview was on several radio stations. Rev. Josh Pawelek can be seen in this photo gallery: see photo number 2, in the front row on the right of the clergy co-chair group of the Interfaith Fellowship for Universal Health Care.

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