Congregational Justice Programs
Justice is at the core of our faith. Our congregations are called to make a positive difference in our wider communities. We work to serve, to raise awareness, and to support and partner with people who face injustice. We advocate, organize, and act for justice to live out the values of our faith.
Step 1: Get Grounded in a Spiritual Model
- Do’s and Don’ts for justice-seeking congregations
- Beloved Community Practices: a webinar on engaging with a love-based, faith-based model of social change
- Small Group Ministry for Social Change: a powerful justice program model involving small group ministry
- A People So Bold: DVD and study guide on how congregations can be beacons of Unitarian Universalist values for the larger world
- Challenging the spiritual/political divide: guidance for congregational leaders
- Nurturing a ministry of activism
See it in action: Rev. Abhi Janamanchi describes the role of faith in the justice work of prophets like Theodore Parker, Gandhi, John Haynes Holmes, and Martin Luther King, Jr. Read stories about congregations using spiritual justice program models.
Step 2: Build and Focus Your Justice Ministry
- Inspired Faith, Effective Action (PDF, 31 pages): a social justice workbook designed to help congregations build effective justice programs
- Collective Visioning guide from the organization Spirit in Action.
- Story of Self, Us, Now: a process for creating a shared call to mobilize around a particular justice topic or need
- Sustainable Action: Planting the Seeds of Relational Organizing (PDF, 7 pages): a guide to 1-to-1 meetings
- Social Justice Empowerment Handbook (PDF, 141 pages): detailed guidance on different aspects of congregational justice programs, including foundations, outreach, structure options, decision-making, building leadership, and more
- Social Justice Empowerment Cluster Workshop: a workshop available to groups of congregations that want to engage with best practices for building and focusing justice programs
- Funding and awards for congregational justice ministry, including raising money for social action.
See it in action: The UU Church of Akron, OH, winner of the 2014 Bennett Award for Social Justice, has a vibrant justice program with three key focuses: immigration, food justice, and LGBTQ outreach. Read more stories about focused congregational justice ministry.
Step 3: Be in Partnership
- UU Justice Ministries: Organizing from the Heart (PDF, 6 pages): Tips for taking a deeply relational approach to faith-based organizing
- A Community Builder’s Toolkit: 15 Tools for Creating Healthy, Productive Interracial/Multicultural Communities (PDF, 39 pages)
- Partnering Congregations and Community Organizations: A video of a panel discussion of four UU ministers, social justice leaders, and community activists about what has worked well in partnerships.
- Solidarity is a Spiritual Practice: A podcast of a panel discussion about multicultural justice-making partnerships—best practices and success stories from the field
- How to be an Ally: guidance for practicing good partnership
Great groups that many UU congregations have formed partnerships with include:
- Congregation-Based Community Organizations: large-scale interfaith, economically diverse, multiracial, national grassroots organizations that work for civic, regional, and state-wide social change
- UU Statewide Advocacy Networks: many U.S. states have a UU network working on justice issues at the state level, organized by local leaders
- UU College of Social Justice: an organization that offers experiential learning journeys and social justice training for individuals and congregational groups, helping people cross boundaries, gain insight, and live their faith by making a difference in the world
See it in action: A panel of UU leaders and organizers discuss partnership and movement-building around ending the New Jim Crow of mass incarceration, police brutality, and criminalization of people of color. Read more partnership stories.
Step 4: Take Action!
There are many ways to do justice ministry. Here are tips for different types of action:
- The Real Rules: IRS guidelines on congregational advocacy, lobbying, and elections
- Legislative advocacy and other tips for working with elected officials
- Public witness and media advocacy
- Grassroots organizing
- Socially responsible investing
- Guide to passing congregational resolutions
Step 5: Deepen Engagement and Connection
- Standing on the Side of Love: a campaign that helps UUs and allies harness love’s power to stop oppression
- Social Justice Calendar: national justice-related days and events in the coming year
- Just Acts: a monthly newsletter offering justice stories, resources from our movement, and opportunities for action
- The Welcoming Congregation Program: a congregational UU program that deepens sexuality and gender justice
- The Green Sanctuary Program: a congregational UU program that deepens environmental justice
- Multicultural justice resources for adult faith development
See it in action: A webinar shares how UU congregations are utilizing Standing on the Side of Love to deepen congregational justice ministries and engagement. Read more stories about congregations deepening their justice ministry.