Social Justice Empowerment
Justice ministry—making a positive difference in our local and global communities—is a core function of any Unitarian Universalist congregation, whether through service, education, advocacy, witness, community organizing, or other means. The Social Justice Empowerment workshop was created to assist congregations in developing effective social justice programs.
The Social Justice Empowerment Handbook (PDF, 141 pages) is a powerful resource, freely available to all, that offers detailed guidance, tools, and best practices related to different aspects of congregational justice programs, including spiritual foundations; congregational identity around social justice; different congregational social justice program structures; tools for doing effective, sustainable, and accountable justice ministry; guidance on decision-making and public witness positions; building leadership; and more.
Hosting a Workshop
A Social Justice Empowerment workshop can be offered at regional gatherings or for groups of congregations who want to get together and engage with how to improve the effectiveness and sustainability of their justice ministries (individual Social Justice Empowerment workshops are not offered).
This group method brings together congregational teams and equips participants with tools they can bring back to their congregations to support their justice ministries. Group workshops also allow congregations to strengthen their connections and support each other in their social justice efforts.
To bring a Social Justice Empowerment workshop to a gathering near you, contact socialjustice [at] uua [dot] org.
Objectives & Details
Each Social Justice Empowerment workshop is tailored to the needs of the group, but most workshops allow participants to:
- Reflect and discuss how to help make their congregation’s social justice program more spiritually grounded
- Develop a vision of their congregation’s potential to be a strong social justice force in their community and next steps for acting on that vision
- Learn best practices for building effective, sustainable, balanced programs that are integrated into the larger life of a congregation
- Gain tools for discerning what justice endeavors will be the best fit for their congregation and how to increase the number of people involved
Workshops can be several hours, a full day, or a day and a half long, and are led by one or two facilitators who are UU social justice leaders.
For the best possible results, a congregational team should be composed of a diversity of leaders from the congregation, including any social justice committee/team members and leadership, minister, director of religious education, board members, and so on, and the team should make a plan ahead of time for how they will reconvene to process their experience and share it with the rest of the congregation.
Check out these stories from justice award-winning and leading UU congregations that have used the Social Justice Empowerment Program to refocus and re-energize their congregational social justice ministries!
- People’s Church in Kalamazoo, MI, wins the Bennett Award for Social Justice ten years after utilizing a Social Justice Empowerment workshop
- A Social Justice Empowerment workshop “renewed a spirit of social activism within the church, reorganized lay leaders, and increased congregant participation” at the First UU Church in Rochester, MN
- A Social Justice Empowerment workshop helped First Unitarian Church of Oakland, CA, take the steps toward a powerful partnership with the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights