UN Sunday Services at First Parish in Bedford, Bedford, MA
“Arm in arm: Interfaith Action to Disarm the Planet.”
Action Date(s): October 22, 2017
We were especially pleased to welcome Bruce Knotts, the director of the UU-UNO, to First Parish Bedford (MA) UU to help us celebrate UN Sunday. I had met Bruce at the Spring Intergenerational Conference last year and invited him earlier on to come to Bedford. As the new UU-UNO Envoy here, and our first in a while, I felt it was important to convey to our congregation the importance of the UN and our voice there. Who better to do that than Bruce?!
Our printed Order of Service always includes “Thoughts to Ponder at the Beginning.” For these we drew on several quotes from Eleanor Roosevelt, including, “The UN is our greatest hope for the future peace…” The service began with a unison reading of “We the Peoples of the United Nations” and the Hymn “For the Earth Forever Turning.”
Bruce started his portion of the service with A Time For All Ages, reading from the UNICEF book “For Every Child.” After we sang the children off to their RE classes, Bruce delivered his sermon entitled “Arm in Arm: Interfaith Action to Disarm the Planet.” He talked about Unitarians’ early support for and participation in the formation of the UN and how the UU-UNO itself came into being not long after. Bruce has been a leader among the Non Government Organizations (NGO’s) that represent civil society at the UN, currently serving as chair of the NGO Committee on Human Rights, the chair of the NGO Committee on Disarmament, Peace and Security and chair of the NGO/DPI Executive Committee, which represents some 1,400 NGOs at the UN.
Bruce then provided a great deal of in-depth information about the extent of the world arms trade, drone warfare, the threat from nuclear weapons, and the many disarmament efforts at the UN. He called attention to the recently adopted treaty to ban nuclear weapons, for which ICAN won the Nobel Peace Prize. Unfortunately, the United States and the other nuclear-armed countries have not signed on as yet, and much work lies ahead to ratify it. Bruce also talked about the work the UN does in world development, and how through all of these efforts our UU-UNO office has an opportunity to promote our UU values.
The service ended with a rousing rendition of “Gonna Lay Down My Sword and Shield.” Parishioners were fascinated by the breadth of information Bruce shared, and the service was followed by an animated “talk back” or discussion.
Later Sunday evening, Bruce met with our Coming of Age and Senior Youth to describe the UNO Envoy program, the Intergenerational Spring Seminar, and internship opportunities. The youth were eager to learn about the United Nations, and several expressed interest in participating in these programs.
UN-Sunday was exciting, enjoyable and informative for our congregation. We recognize it is only a beginning step in our efforts to grow awareness of the UU-UNO and the way in which it helps us to live out our 6th Principle: The goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
First Parish Bedford UU
We promoted UU Sunday with the following article in our parish newsletter
WE THE PEOPLES OF THE UNITED NATIONS…
So begins the charter of an extraordinary idea …. an agreement among nations to maintain international peace and promote the general welfare of humankind.
The UU United Nations Office is our voice in the highest gathering of the world’s nations. Bruce Knotts, Director of the UU-UNO Office, will be guest presenter at our UU Sunday service on Oct. 22nd. Our 6th Principle calls us “to affirm and promote the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.” It is hard to envision how we can act within our own lives to support such a lofty goal. Supporting the UN and our office there is one such way.
In 1945, representatives of 50 countries met in San Francisco to begin a process that brought the United Nations into being. One of its earliest achievements was the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, adopted without a single dissenting vote. The Declaration serves as the foundation for a multitude of laws and institutions promoting human rights. Despite the recent disappointments there, the UN remains the essential instrument for promoting peace in the world.
What is less known is the role the United Nations is playing in world development. For example, it was through the work of the UN that nearly 2 billion people have gained access to safe drinking water. The UN has established an ambitious set of Sustainable Development Goals that all members have committed to achieving by the year 2030. You can go to this short video and landing page for more information:
I hope you will join me this year in working toward achieving designation of First Parish as a Blue Ribbon Congregation in support of the UU-UNO.
- Jerry Ross, UU-UNO Envoy
Peace and Justice Committee
Learn more about Events like this on UN Sunday Services.