Annual Reports to the 2020 General Assembly

This video includes:

  • Introduction to Reports
  • Beacon Press Report
  • Unitarian Universalist Service Committee Report
  • Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation Report

All Annual Reports

Rough Edited Captioning

​CART captioning for the video above provided by Alternative Communication Services, LLC.

This is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

>> Hello. I'm going to open up the session today with a poem that I wrote. This is for the invisible. The invisible labor and child rearing and invisible caregiving. Invisible knowledge. Wisdom sharing and holding us all above. Invisible disabilities. People who are made invisible by others. And people who are most forced themselves to make themselves invisible. Invisible pain and suffering. Invisible sacrifices. It is time to make the invisible visible. Demand that no longer will privileged people get to determine what is visible and what is not. Time to be all in with our scars and pain and trauma.

It is time to be all in with all of our love, care, support, fear, hope, abundance and happiness. And even more than that, our joy.

It is time to be all in, all in. Time to be rooted. Rooted in terms of ancestral wisdom. Rooted in terms of where we want to go. Rooted in terms of ourselves being whole and worthy. It's time to be all in. So we're going to hear three reports from three organizations that epitomize what it means to be all in and epitomizes to be rooted and radical forces for change.

And so we have got Helene Atwan Director of Beacon Press with the report, and then Mary Kathryn Morn with the Unitarian Universal Services Report. And Claire Sexton for the Women's Federation Report. And then we close out with closing words. Thank you.

>> HELENE: I'm Helene Atwan, Director of your Beacon Press and happy to be with you virtually to report on the work of the press in the past year. I wish I had an hour, but I'm going to cram this into seven minutes and leave out a whole lot. But you can go to our website, our blog, our YouTube channel and our social media for more Beacon news.

Speaking of which, you will be in good company. Our social reach continues to widen each passing year. And we are all over the traditional media, too.

Print, radio, and TV. We had two authors on Trevor Noah this year. This is historian Mary Francis. Look out for the second one coming up. We are having measurable impact.

This GA you are paying a great deal of attention to indigenous voices and we have the privilege of bringing you four of our authors who write in this space.

Dina Whitaker speaking tomorrow Friday, June 26 at 9:00 p.m. Roxanne Dubar-Ortiz spoke earlier about colonialism and the history of erasure and exclusion of indigenous history and lives. You can catch the replay. Just refer to the GA website. And her book has become one of our best selling of all time. And the young people's edition is also at the very top of our YA list.

You can hear educators, Jean Mendoza and Natalie Martinez tomorrow night at 9:00. Look for a gorgeous book by Linda Hogan in October.

And, of course, we continue to publish important voices from the queer community. As our histories are being taught in schools, this is a vital part of the mission of expanding in YA space to bring voices from the margins into the center of our history for young readers and in their classrooms.

We are succeeding faster and more effectively than we even—even we had imagined. Recently, the New York City school system purchased 1,400 copies of "A Queer History of the U.S." for young readers for their education faculty.

History needs to be mainstreamed. These voices need to be heard and honored.

As does the real rebellion, Mrs. Rosa Parks. Now adapted by award-winning YA author Brandy Colbert. We continue to explore the repressed history and our white fragility. And one of our author activities who digs really deep into issues of racism in our society is Howard Bryant who has a fascinating conversation with UUA Executive Vice President Carey McDonald which you can watch tonight, Thursday, June 25 at 9:00 p.m.

And speaking of white fragility, Robin DiAngelo's book is still our second best-selling book and the second best seller in the nation. As an indication of how much this book is needed at this time, it sold over 6,000 copies in one day as I was finishing this presentation.

More great news, Robin is hard at work completing a new book called "Niceness is Not Courageous" and she will be working with the YA adaptor to remix white fragility.

And just look at the activists signed up on voting rights, climate change, healthcare and on racial justice. And this one you should all share our pride in. Judy Heumann is widely credited with making the Americans with Disabilities Act happen and here she is yucking it up with our friend Trevor Noah on the cover of her wonderful book soon to be adapted for YA.

And in the scene in the Obama's fantastic documentary Crip Camp you can hear her on the workshop dismantling ableism as part of the lineup on demand. Best of all, you can listen to Tony-award winning actor Ali Stroker, the first person to win a Tony singing from a wheelchair. Reading Judy Heumann's book on Beacon audio along with many other books recorded in the past three years.

Talk about a growth curve. The last piece only represents 10 months. Audio is vital to making our books accessible to a broader range of people.

And it is the fastest growing part of our business. Yes, we are all still hard at work, the entire staff, but working differently now. It is a credit to the 30 dedicated individuals you see here and to our collective efforts over the past two and a half years to change our culture that we have persisted in this important work. I want to thank each and every one of them.

And here at last, almost last, is our number one best seller continuing to give solace in these difficult times. And now with this rediscovered book to urge us all to say yes to life in spite of everything. Thank you for watching. Stay well. Stay connected. Read or listen to more books.

>> I'm so grateful for the privilege of time at this year's General Assembly to address you. Thank you for the leadership of our UUA, for your partnership and support.

At UUSC we are proud to carry the value and vision. Rooted inspired and ready, we join UUA and we are rooted in partnership and ready to respond. In the face of the long-standing and ongoing crisis of human rights and compounding effects of a global pandemic that exacerbates the impacts of systemic oppression.

We are grateful for the relationships and network of long-standing grassroots partnerships that position us to respond now to urgent needs emerging in communities already impacted by human rights abuses. Day to day at UUSC we strive to honor our 80 year history and meet our obligations to generations to come.

Simply, our obligation grounded in our affirmation of the inherent worth and dignity of every person is to advance human rights. We do not doubt for a minute that real change is possible. That is because we have the privilege of watching communities and movements create change every day. We have the joy of witnessing the creativity and courage of partners around the world who are dismantling systems of oppression and advancing human rights. And we have the privilege and joy to work with committed Unitarian Universalists and others who share our values in congregations and action networks to build power for liberation and healing. All of this privilege, this joy, this change is possible because of you.

Our partnerships, our programs and our practices are designed for impact. Briefly, here are a few of the impacts from this last year. Through our partnership UUSC funded and facilitated indigenous activists participation in global climate talks. UUSC was the first and main funder for an international youth conference focused on human rights and community engagement. Committed to an interfaith amicus brief on the right to asylum for victims of domestic violence.

It was cited in the Court's ruling favor of the right to asylum. At the request of the alliance, we created and led advocacy efforts for safe and support of temporary protected status. With partners in coalition, we shut down the detention center. We established the congregational accompaniment project for asylum seekers as part of an international movement for accountability and justice. We secured sanctions in the United States Treasury Department in response to the genocide in Burma.

We funded and facilitated a youth movement in flawless campaign to shape the narrative of their recovery after Hurricane Michael.

UUSC has led from within to change funding models in philanthropy. We funded and provided staffing for participatory research led by grassroots movements and provided justice education and opportunities for advocacy.

And we are always striving to dismantle white supremacy culture in our institutions and in ourselves.

I hope that paints a picture of the breadth of the UESC impact. It also depends on the depth of the values that guide our work and partnership. For the last four years, UUSC has partnered with a feminist organization in Nicaragua to build and allows women to reaffirm their ways of being in the context of multiple forms of structural violence. One is the work done to build a systemic alternative to the extractive capitalist model of food production that displaced rural families and promotes violence against women.

Developed a sustainable feminist agroecological model that centers the stability of life in all its forms. It is cooperative rather than individualistic, providing the community with resources and access to goods not for personal enrichment, but for the enhancement of the common good. 25 years since the founding, it is now a 300 member strong cooperative of women farmers.

In the midst of recent government crackdowns, protests spread throughout the country. And the violent response of the state left 300 dead, over 2,000 injured, and hundreds arbitrarily arrested and prosecuted. In the midst of this, FEM reported that the political violence led to severe food shortages, physical insecurity, isolation and deteriorating well-being among the women.

FEM asked us for support to supply 12 of the communities with basic medical supplies and pay for fuel costs for emergency mobilization and offset costs in rural communities. Because of the danger of travel, they hoped to temporarily relocate part of the staff. A few months after our response, FEM reported to us that all 12 communities received medical kits, staff were able to mobilize and support rural communities. And FEM's leadership was able to successfully relocate.

You see what I mean about the privilege and joy in supporting grassroots leadership and change? We are creating change. UUSC partner living hope wheelchair association director puts the danger and opportunity of the moment in clear focus when he writes we are witnessing an event that exposes how widespread inequality makes the whole society vulnerable.

Democracies and economies will be safe, as safe as those who are the most vulnerable within them. The reason to include and protect everyone is not rooted in the economic or the political, it is intertwined with how our shared dignity and humanity is actualized in our treatment of each other.

Particularly in times of crisis. Thank you to all who join UUSC in answering the call to support the work for justice.

>> CLAIRE: Hi, I'm Claire Sexton. Founded in 1963, through the consolidation of Unitarian and Universalists women’s organizations, the UUWS evolved into an education and funding and advocacy organization.

Ground in Unitarian Universalist practice pursues justice, equity and fairness for all who identify as women and girls and nourishes their spiritual growth. One of two associate member organizations of the UUA along with the Unitarian Universalist service committee.

A group of passionate volunteers committed to gender justice and intersectionality. We are in a transition period. Unfortunately, part of the transition is that we lost a friend and colleague on the board, Elizabeth Betty McCollum in April to COVID-19. She was part of the team for too short a time and a fierce and faithful advocate for women.

Sue Boone who GA folks might remember as the front of house manager for General Assembly for a long time was finishing her final term as the treasurer of the UUWF. It has been a pleasure working with her for the four years we worked together, and I have known her even longer.

Our other members, Isabel Cull. Reverend Cummings. Reverend Kim Johnson. Gretchen Omen, and Reverend Nancy Reed McKee. Other leadership team members, Reverend Joyce Palmer, Marjorie Bowens Wheatley, Scholarship Chair, and our fabulous administrator Dana Robb. Reverend Dana and Marty Keller continue to work on the annual justice for women and girls sermon award.

We are excited to be working on the last steps of combining with UU women and religion, a transition supported by a consultant Diane Johnson. One of the many things we are working on with this transition is to embark on a listening campaign to better understand where UU women's needs and passions lie.

Hopefully you have heard of or participated in one of our online listening circles or have had the opportunity to speak with a board member. If not, we welcome your friendship and input and hope you will visit and allow you to get to know us better.

One of the pillars of activity is advocacy. As is the case, the ill effects of bad things happening in the word and the U.S.A. falls disproportionately on women and people of color. We keep tabs on legislation and major events that affects women and girls.

Most recently, we issued a statement about the COVID-19 crisis in the U.S. One of which is the UU Women's Federation demands the world a living wage, paid time off, shelter, ample food and adequate healthcare and childcare aren't markers of privilege but a right of any and every human.

Along with over 100 other organizations the UUWS signed on to a community letter calling on the U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee to take action on Global Health Empowerment and Rights Act to end the global gag rule. And we join the Massachusetts Equity Coalition to advocate for the I AM Bill, increasing access to menstrual products.

The Wheatley scholarship was established in 2009 in memory of the work of Reverend Wheatley who worked tirelessly to raise awareness of the need for more interracial and intercultural obligations. Mariela just finished her year at school and ministerial internship. She is currently a final candidate to be senior minister at Fountain Street Ministry in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Candidates in the UUA religious education or music leadership program who identify as women of color, Latina or Hispanic. We are pleased to support Mariela. Don't hesitate to get in touch with us if you are a woman of color on the path. The grants program supports Unitarian Universalist women in school scholarly exploration. The program funded a peer sexuality education program with a focus on making informed choices and advocating for policy.

Also an expert on incarcerated battered women, has written a prison ministry curriculum directed at UU women and congregations to teach and support them to develop programs for incarcerated women. And we support publications in curricula.

A new publication describing the collaborative model of decision-making used to build community women transforming themselves and the world. The new curriculum for the study of feminism examining and celebrating the contributions of women throughout history.

We are women expressing UU values, creating a world that is safe and joy filled for women everywhere and therefore people everywhere. We want your participation. Stay tuned and stay in touch. Thank you.

>> Our faith asks much of us. Give to it and it will give back ten-fold. Trust in the power of community. Tend to relationships, responsibilities, and institutions just as you tend to yourself. Do what is right and just and holy.

Keep fresh before you the moments of your highest resolve, not for yourself alone but for the salvation of us all. Go in peace. And know you are loved.