Public Witness at General Assembly

Public Witness 2022

When we gather in-person at #UUAGA, we make a commitment to leveraging our UU power in support of locally-led movements for justice through a Public Witness in whatever city we are in. This year, local UU climate justice activists have asked us to join them in their support of youth-led climate justice work in partnership with Sunrise PDX, a chapter of the national Sunrise Movement.

Join Side With Love, UU Ministry for Earth, and our UU youth and young adults for this short action to support Sunrise PDX's Youth vs. ODOT campaign in demanding that the Oregon Department of Transportation "Fund Futures, not Freeways!" People of all ages and abilities are invited to join the Procession of Species, and lift our voices together in song and chant at this brief, uplifting youth-led rally.

UU Ministry for Earth Procession of the Species

Friday, June 24 following the Synergy worship, at approximately 5:30 p.m. PT

Following Synergy, there will be a UU Ministry for Earth Procession of the Species to the Public Witness event which will be at the Oregon Convention Center North Plaza by the intersection of NE Holladay St. and NE Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd. There's a statue of Martin Luther King, Jr. at the corner of the North Plaza which is also across the street from the Convention Center MAX light rail stop.


Demand Smart Justice for Spokane!

87% of people in Spokane County Jail are there for non-violent offenses. Communities of color, those living in poverty, and our neighbors with mental illness, addiction, and disabilities are hardest hit by the criminal justice system. Too many non-violent people and those needing treatment end up jailed - even though jail is proven to be the most expensive and least effective way to reduce crime or change behavior. These institutional responses divide our families and stifle economic opportunity and growth.

We say: jobs not jails, mental health services not sentences, and racial equity not racial profiling.


In 2018 Black Lives of Unitarian Universalism (BLUU) took on the lead role for Public Witness at General Assembly in Kansas City, MO.

  • Public Witness: “Anatomy of a Bailout” Panel Discussion
  • Public Witness: Care Package Build Project (throughout GA in the Exhibit Hall)
  • Public Witness: People of Color & Indigenous Hands On Project at Uzazi Village


#LoveResists Rejoicing for Sanctuary & Solidarity

In New Orleans, Unitarian Universalists celebrated expanding the notion of sanctuary to help create safe spaces for all people under threat, and rejoice in the solidarity of working with community partners. We began in distinctly New Orleans style with Young & Talented New Orleans Brass Band leading us in a “second-line” style procession to the event site, a tradition established by black New Orleanians to express grief and celebrate life which has offered cultural resistance to systemic oppression for generations. FreeQuency, spoken word artist, Rev. Juanita Ramos, Congreso de Jornaleros New Orleans, Rev. Joseph Santos-Lyons, Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon, and Rev. Darcy Roake shared stories of creating sanctuary emceed by Sara Green.


State of Emergence: Faith Filled People Rally for Racial Justice

UUs gathered on Thursday, June 23 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. Speakers included Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, Alicia Garza, President Rev. Peter Morales, and other Movement for Black Lives and multifaith leaders.


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 (YouTube) , singer/songwriter Dana Lyons , and President of Plant for the Planet and founder of Earth Guardians Seattle Aji Piper and his brother Adonis Williams.

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 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).

Related Content

Public Witness

At each General Assembly we invite interfaith and community partners to join us in a public witness for justice.

An African American man in a bright yellow "Side with Love" t-shirt speaks at a microphone and gestures broadly with his hands

Side With Love campaign manager Everette R. H. Thompson address the 2019 Public Witness

Marchers carrying signs walk from convention center to site of protest

Protestors in 2019 in Spokane, WA

Citizens of the Chinook Indian Nation of Oregon and Washington play a drumming prayer song, "The Changer," during the 2015 General Assembly public witness event

Citizens of the Chinook Indian Nation of Oregon and Washington play a drumming prayer song, "The Changer," during the 2015 General Assembly public witness event.

WaterFire is a downtown Providence riverfront community arts festival whose signature feature is braziers lit on the river.

The 2014 General Assembly public witness brought Unitarian Universalists together with WaterFire, a community arts festival, in Providence, RI

Young woman holds plastic earth ball at rally for environmental justice in Louisville, KY, June 2011.

Participants in the 2013 General Assembly public witness in Louisville, KY

American flag at GA 2012 vigil.

2012 General Assembly public witness at Tent City in Phoenix, AZ