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The Program (Resistance and Transformation)

Once upon a time we were

Now we are

And some day (Hallelujah!) we shall surely become. — from "Some Day" by Margaret Williams Braxton

This program helps Unitarian Universalists delve deeper into the heart of their faith. Many people come to Unitarian Universalist congregations because of our movement's reputation for engaging in social justice work as a matter of faith. Too often, they learn little about the history of that engagement beyond what is taught in a new member class or offered in an occasional Sunday sermon. Unitarian Universalists who have grown up in this tradition may remember only a few pieces of our social justice history from children and youth religious education programs. Resistance and Transformation presents stories from our social justice history never before gathered in one place. Activities and questions for engagement and reflection deepen participants' understanding of the place social justice work holds in Unitarian Universalist heritage, culture, and identity.

This program is neither an all-inclusive history of the Unitarian Universalist social justice legacy nor a how-to primer on social activism. Rather, it offers a selection of stories, resources, and activities that synthesize ideas and action and blend history, theory, and practice. Participants will come away from these workshops with more knowledge about our past and a sense of how it continues to shape current Unitarian Universalist identity. The program offers vision and inspiration for future social justice work.

Resistance and Transformation consists of 16, 90-minute workshops that can each be extended to two hours. The workshops revolve around the stories of Unitarian, Universalist, or Unitarian Universalist people and congregations' involvement in social justice struggles. Each workshop encourages participants to think about their own involvement in social justice work and how the challenges, struggles, and choices of our religious forebears can inform our own choices today. Themes include:

  • The range of Unitarian and Universalist responses to slavery, and an examination of what it means to risk defying the law of the land
  • The question of pacifism within Unitarianism and Universalism, explored through stories of congregations and individuals that wrestled with decisions to support or oppose particular wars
  • Historic and contemporary experiments in forming utopian communities
  • Unitarian Universalist responses to anti-Communist fervor in American politics and society, following World War II
  • Unitarian Universalist involvement in the Civil Rights movement and the call for Black Empowerment within our Association, and the hard choices individuals, congregations, and denominational leadership made then
  • The Unitarian Universalist involvement in 20th- and 21st-century struggles for equality and justice, including the bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender movements, the women's movement, and the campaign for comprehensive sexuality education.

The workshops unfold events, issues, and challenges in our social justice history, telling the truth as best we know it and acknowledging that our forebears have at times acted in ways that make us proud of our tradition and at times made choices or acted in ways that are not in line with our religious values as we understand them today. This program challenges participants to engage with events and individuals from our history by asking good questions and discerning meaning for our own time. The concluding workshop affirms there are more Unitarian, Universalist, and Unitarian Universalist social justice themes and stories to uncover and invites participants to name some. May this program offer both inspiration and understanding as Unitarian Universalists faithfully face the challenges of our own time in our ongoing struggle for justice in the world.

For more information contact web @ uua.org.

This work is made possible by the generosity of individual donors and congregations. Please consider making a donation today.

Last updated on Saturday, December 10, 2011.

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