Armed with $500 canvas relief tents and informational flyers from the
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), these activists are raising our
awareness while working to better the lives of those in Darfur. Each tent will
be decorated by the congregation's members—often youth—and displayed before
being sent to Washington, DC. There, hundreds of tents from all over the United
States will be erected on the National Mall before the Capitol Building. For one
weekend in November, Americans will see what many see every day in Darfur and
Chad: a city of tents. After the event in Washington, the tents, along with
supplies, will be sent to refugee camps in Africa.
The UUSC has many educational resources available to support this
project, including T-shirts, pins, posters and postcards. Among these resources
are informational postcards addressed to Sen. Bill Nelson, Chair of the
International Human Rights Subcommittee. These cards call for stronger
protections for women in Darfuri refugee camps, including firewood patrols,
prevention of sexual harassment and rape, and recruitment of female peacekeepers
in the camps.
Many congregations used their engagement in this project as a social justice
activity for youth in the church. Lillian Drab, youth programs coordinator for the First UU
Church of Dallas, explained how the youth worked through the summer decorating
their tent. The youth had a “lock-in” sleepover where they met with a member of
their congregation who recently returned from Darfur. The youth then spent every
Sunday from June through August painting murals onto the panels of the tent. The tent
now sits in front of the church where it will stay until November, when the
youth plan to deliver the tent to Washington personally. Drab says, “While it is
the youth who are the leaders on this project, the whole church is involved,
UU World reported on the actions of two other participating congregations.
The UU Congregation at Shelter Rock in Manhasset, NY, and the UU Church of
Kent, OH, painted their tents with messages of love and hope for the victims of
Chris Bremer of the First Universalist Church of Minneapolis, MN, took postcards to her women’s group to have people sign and send them.
Holly Williams of the UU Church of Lancaster, PA, got 100 postcards
sent to her U.S. senator's office in support of aid to Darfur.
The Worcester Telegram & Gazette reported on the UU Congregational
Society of Westborough, MA, who teamed up with Christians and Jews to
buy tents. Five religious communities have worked to paint and display their
tents; all five tents will be erected in front of the UU church in a display of
unity. Chair of the Westborough congregation’s social justice committee,
Ann-Louise Salim, notes this is the first interfaith work the youth of the
congregation have participated in.
Unitarian Universalists are not the only group who use the resources of the
UUSC. Rev. Karen Hundreiser, minister of the United Methodist Church of Worth,
IL, received information on Darfur from the UUSC. Hundresier's church has
been invited to participate in a gathering of tents that will be held in Grant
Park in Chicago. Several tents will be on display in downtown Chicago at an
event called “Stop the Violence” on October 26th.
These stories represent a fraction of the people who worked through September
to make the Tents of Hope project a reality. 385 people visited the project's online
Campaign Headquarters, 198 people sent emails to President Bush, and 40 congregations have ordered campaign materials from the Unitarian Universalist
There is still time for your congregation to get involved! To
find out how, check out the information from the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) Advocacy and Witness staff
group on the September Action of the Month: Tents of Hope. You can learn how to
get a tent and acquire the UUSC's educational materials. If you have a story to
tell or pictures to share of your tent, please send it to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information contact
This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations.
Please consider making a donation today.
Last updated on Friday, May 3, 2013.
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Members of First Unitarian Church of Dallas (TX) work on their tent.
Dallas congregation members stand in front of the tent they decorated to promote an end to violence in Darfur.
One of the Tents of Hope, from Asheville, NC.
Information on the Tents of Hope Project
UUA Advocacy & Witness September Action of the Month: Tents of Hope
UUSC Tents of Hope Information
Tents Draw Attention to Darfurian Refugees' Plight (UU World)
Congregations Join to Buy Tents, Put Focus on Darfur (Worcester Telegram & Gazette)
Donate to Support This Program and the Ongoing Work of the UUA
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Learn more about the Beliefs & Principles of Unitarian Universalism, or read our online magazine, UU World, for features on today's Unitarian Universalists. Visit an online UU church, or find a congregation near you.