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Public Witness at General Assembly
Public Witness at General Assembly
General Assembly, Social Justice at GA


State of Emergence: Faith Filled People Rally for Racial Justice

Thursday, June 23, 2016 at 5:00 to 6:00 p.m.  
Ohio Statehouse, Columbus, OH
(Rain location Batelle Room at Columbus Convention Center)

Gather with Unitarian Universalists, in collaboration with the Ohio Student Association, the People’s Justice Project, UU Justice Ohio and our multi-faith partners, for an interfaith event focusing on truth telling, fortification and commitment to boldly work for Black liberation.

Join Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, Alicia Garza, President Rev. Peter Morales, and other Movement for Black Lives and multifaith leaders for this year’s Public Witness. 

A mass movement for Black liberation continues to grow across the United States. UU congregations have been participating in local actions as well as displaying Black Lives Matter banners in support of the movement. Many of those banners have been vandalized or destroyed. Local organizers have been fighting for criminal justice reform, raising the minimum wage, and defending voting rights.

With racist rhetoric and personal attacks in this year’s electoral cycle, it is more important than ever for interfaith communities and local partners to speak up, come together, and shift the dialogue back to real issues affecting people. 

The movement calls us--as people of faith and conscience--to center the lives and experiences of Black people as we build an intersectional, anti-racist movement that transforms ourselves, our communities and our collective power. State of Emergence will complement programming about organizing for racial justice at GA 2016 including the Black Lives of UU and Building a Transformative Movement for Racial Justice workshop tracks, coupled with programming in general session, worship and healing/ritual space.

Event speakers include: Rev. Sekou and The Holy Ghost; Monica Simpson, Executive Director, SisterSONG; Rev. Peter Morales, President, Unitarian Universalist Association; Rev. John Dorhauer, General Minister and President, United Church of Christ (UCC); Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President, Union for Reform Judaism; Naeem Baig, President, Islamic Circle of North America; Alicia Garza, co-founder, Black Lives Matter; Rev. Lane Campbell, UU Justice Ohio, Showing up For Racial Justice Columbus; Malaya Davis, Ohio Students Association; Rev. Dr. Susan K. Smith, Crazy Faith Ministries; Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, President, North Carolina NAACP; and Rev. Cheryl M. Walker, UU Fellowship Wilmington and UU Ministers Association.

Directions and Transportation

Buses come regularly during rush hour but please depart the Convention Center by or near 4:00pm if you plan to take the bus to ensure sufficient time.

Accessible Transportation: If you will be using a wheelchair or scooter during General Assembly (GA) and would like to pre­reserve a ride with these chartered buses, please SIGN UP. There are a limited number of places for wheelchair/scooters on the chartered buses so sign up as early as possible. 

Towards the Ohio State Capitol

BUS- CBUS (Free)

Board CBUS to Sycamore at N. High Street & Ohio Center Way [Just South of Hilton Columbus Downtown]

Take bus four stops

Exit at Capitol Square stop - The Ohio Statehouse will be directly across the street

Columbus City Bus ($2- Exact Change)

Board City Buses #2, 5, 7 or 8 to Downtown at N. High Street & Ohio Center Way [Just South of the Hilton Columbus Downtown]

Take bus four stops

Exit Capitol Square stop - The Ohio Statehouse will be directly across the street

All buses are scooter/wheelchair accessible for up to two patrons

STREET (6 blocks- 0.9 Miles)

Exit Convention Center and turn left (South) on N. High Street

Go South on High Street for six blocks until you cross Broad Street

The Ohio Statehouse will be immediately to the left on the corner of S. High Street and E. Broad Street

Towards the Greater Columbus Convention Center

BUS- CBUS (Free)

Go West on Broad Street for two blocks

Turn left and go South on S. Front Street for two blocks

Board CBUS to Third Street at S. Front Street & W. Town Street [2 blocks Southwest of Ohio Statehouse]

Take bus five stops

Exit at N. High Street & Ohio Center Way—The Convention Center will be directly across the street

Columbus City Bus ($2- Exact Change)

Board City Buses #2, 5, 7 or 8 to Downtown at S. High St. & Capitol Square [Just West of the Ohio Statehouse]

Take bus four stops

Exit N High St. & Ohio Center Way - The Convention Center will be directly to the right


Yellow Cab of Columbus (614) 444-4444

Columbus United Taxi (614) 449-9999

Have accessible vehicles available- call one hour advance notice


Both Lyft and Uber also operate in the Columbus-metro area


A Sacred Public Witness: Commit2Respond to Climate Change

On June 27, 2015, almost 2,400 Unitarian Universalists and allies gathered for "A Sacred Public Witness," sponsored by Commit2Respond, the new UU climate justice coalition. Attendees listened to the story, struggle, and wisdom of leaders from Lummi Nation, who are on the front lines of the environmental crisis, and then co-created a powerful ritual of sending blessings to the four directions and making spiritual commitments to climate justice.  

Speakers included Lummi Nation Councilman and treaty rights activist Jay Julius, Lummi Elder, international climate justice activist, and totem pole carver Jewell Praying Wolf James, and Unitarian Universalist Association President Rev. Peter Morales. Music was provided by Shamania James, singer/songwriter Dana Lyons, and President of Plant for the Planet and founder of Earth Guardians Seattle Aji Piper and his brother Adonis Williams.

Attendees learned about how the ecosystems and way of life of Original Peoples of the Western Hemisphere are being threatened by the environmental crisis, and how Lummi Nation is fighting to keep the largest coal port in North America from being built on Cherry Point, or Xwe'chi'eXen, which would desecrate Lummi Nation sacred lands and waters. They were called on to make spiritual commitments to climate justice and take action in solidarity with communities at the front lines of the environmental crisis.

Watch the recording of the event, check out the full coverage from UU World, and most importantly, find out six ways to take action in support of Lummi Nation and other front lines communities.


WaterFire Providence—Love Reaches Out

“Justice is what love looks like in public.”
Cornel West

On Saturday June 28, the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) cosponsored WaterFire Providence under the theme “Love Reaches Out,” honoring our belief that love is justice and witnessing for the power of love to change the world in radical, faithful ways.

WaterFire is a non-profit riverfront community arts festival whose mission is to foster community engagement and creatively transform the city. The festival includes music, art, ritual, and the signature feature of lighting braziers of wood on the river. It is a celebration of community, the arts, and the natural world.

As the UU World reported, "tens of thousands of people joined in with Unitarians Universalists at the dramatic WaterFire event on Saturday night in downtown Providence, RI. As night fell, Unitarian Universalists in their bright yellow Standing on the Side of Love t-shirts were easy to spot in the enormous crowds lining the riverbanks, as torch bearers on boats lit a series of 80 giant braziers in the middle of the city’s three rivers. As the flames reached high, music that expressed the GA theme, Love Reaches Out, filled the night air." Read the whole story and check out photos and social media posts from the event.


Where is Our Energy? Witness for Earth, Our Communities, and Our Future

UUs marched from the Louisville Convention Center to the Belvedere, a promenade overlooking the Ohio River, where musicians, activists, and ministers led them in song and prayer. “We can choose another way,” UUA President Peter Morales said. “We need not live in a way that degrades the planet.” He urged UUs to work for environmental justice together and with their faith partners “for all of humanity and all of the earth.” More from UUWorld

Joining the UUs were people from many faith communities, including representatives from Judaism, Buddhism, Islam, Native Americans, Presbyterians, Hindus, and members of the United Church of Christ. Many environmental groups were represented as well, including Kentucky Interfaith Power and Light, 350 Louisville, and the Sierra Club. Author, spiritual environmental justice activist, economic critic, and farmer Wendell Berry and activist Tim DeChristopher also spoke.


Interfaith Witness for Human Rights: Candlelight Vigil at Tent City Jail

Over 2,000 people are being held at Sheriff Joe Arpaio’s infamous Tent City Jail. Another 6,000 people are being held in other Maricopa County jails in the same areas, south of W. Durango St. To date over 427,000 inmates have gone through Tent City Jail where people are crowded together on wooden planks in broiling heat in the summer and freezing cold in the winter.

UUA President Rev. Peter Morales, United Church of Christ General Minister & President Rev. Geoffrey A. Black, other interfaith clergy, and local UU and human rights leaders participated. Multimedia coverage.


Standing on the Side of Love with LGBT People Everywhere!

Rev. Peter Morales, Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) President, Rev. Mark Kiyimba, Minister of the UU Church of Kampala, Uganda, Ian Palmquist, Executive Director of Equality North Carolina Interfaith, and community partners joined together for a witness to help spread our values of equality and justice, inclusion and acceptance. Event Flyer (PDF)


Standing on the Side of Love for Marriage Equality

General Assembly attendees were invited to join in an Interfaith Community Public Witness Event at the Twin Cities’ Pride Weekend—the fourth largest bisexual, gay, lesbian, and transgender (BGLT) PRIDE in the nation. Full story.


Members of the General Assembly joined Unitarian Universalist Association President William Sinkford, Bishop John C. Wester, The Rt. Rev. Carolyn Tanner Irish, Rev. Canon Dr. Pablo Ramos, and interfaith and community leaders to Stand on the Side of Love with Immigrant Families.


Public Witness at General Assembly 2008 (Ft. Lauderdale, FL) was Valuing ALL Families: Interfaith Community Witness Event—Immigrant & BGLT Families (PDF).

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