Together, the UU Service Committee (UUSC) and UUA are continuing to explore a new joint approach to engaging UUs who are committed to the United Nations, centered on UUSC’s advocacy agenda. This includes reaching out to congregations in the NYC metro area, across the Association, and with our global U/U partners, such as the Canadian Unitarian Council.
We remain grateful to have your voices in this process. Below you’ll find a compilation of the frequently asked questions and answers from our town halls to date.
We understand this is a time of transition when much may seem in flux–and what remains certain is that there will continue to be an active and faithful UU voice in the UN sphere. The times in which we live demand that we remain active advocates for justice using every channel available to us to build the beloved community we dream of.
Frequently Asked Questions about the UU@UN Transition
- How did we get here?
- Through the UU@UN’s strategic planning process, we identified the importance of collaborating with other UU organizations, as well as the importance of focusing on discreet strategic priorities: climate justice and demilitarization. It became abundantly clear in that process that this historic & crucial work is larger than the UUA and is inextricably tied to UUSC’s advocacy agenda.
- What will happen to Envoys?
- Regular meetings with Envoys are valuable and as such, we (UUA/UUSC) can commit to continuing engagement with Envoys & others invested in this liberatory work.
- Will the Spring Seminar continue?
- We had our annual UU@UN Intergenerational Spring Seminar April 1-3, 2023 in Minneapolis, MN. The event was hosted in partnership with the UU College of Social Justice (UUCSJ), an organization created in 2012 as a collaboration between the UUA and UUSC. The seminar is very much in line with UUCSJ's mission of justice education and we were grateful for this partnership.
- Following the powerful 2023 multiplatform Spring Seminar, our organizations will continue to imagine & create opportunities for learning & engagement.
- Is the Blue Ribbon program still happening?
- Blue Ribbon program was changed to the 6th Principle Congregational award in 2020. The UUA International Office has recently hired a new Engagement Program Manager who will help us evaluate the award program and bring it forward in meaningful ways.
- Will UUSC Guest at the Table continue and can it be in partnership with the envoys?
- This is a GREAT idea! We’ll take note of it!
- Will educational seminars continue?
- Much of what we do is to bring people in relationship with our partners. Learning opportunities are essential, especially where we see gaps. So yes, these will definitely continue!
- Is it true that there is no longer any physical UU presence in the UN Church Center or elsewhere in NYC?
The UUA closed the physical office in New York City during the pandemic, choosing to put those resources to better use. Like all of our work, we are leaning into a more digital-forward presence.
Both the UUA and UUSC retain the ability to reserve space at the UN Church Center.
UUSC is often in the Church Center, hosting events; they have connections there.
UUSC is in discernment regarding how much physical presence in NYC will be necessary.
- They will travel for meetings, especially when our partners will be there.
- They are also planning to engage with the UN in Geneva.
- UUSC’s commitment is to be there as needed for our advocacy agenda.
- Both organizations are committed to engaging where we can have the most leverage, including/outside NYC.
- How will UUSC build on the leadership relationships in the UN NGO community?
- We’re pleased to note that UUSC has been engaged in this UN space for more than a decade.
- UUSC will build on and deepen some relationships that the UU@UN held as they represent our UU values at the UN.
- UUSC’s staff have been diving into the NGO space wholeheartedly and effectively.
- Both the UUA & UUSC have registered statuses (Department of Global Communications & ECOSOC) at the UN. This status allows us to attend certain meetings, e.g. the COP climate conferences.
We also remain connected to the interfaith NGO group.
- We will engage the services of a transitional consult to assist with mapping existing relationships and surveying the field.
- Where will donations to the UU@UN go?
- The UUA has collected donations toward UN advocacy since the UU@UN joined us in 2010. As part of this transition, we are addressing our overall fundraising strategy for this important work.
- Will UUSC be restructuring its work for this and what are the big budget items?
- We will not be restructuring our advocacy work; we have staff who are already well-positioned. There will be additional budget put toward international engagement.
- Are there unexpected or unique financial stresses that these plans might hold?
- Finances are not the motivator for this decision. We expect that the resources devoted to this work, between our two organizations, will remain stable.
- This shift is in response to who is better poised to lead the denomination’s presence at the UN and work on behalf of our grassroots partners in the global arena.
- Is UUSC limited to the northeastern portion of the US?
- UUSC is active across the country. Post-pandemic we’re ramping up our engagement with congregations across the country. Please contact Rev. Laura Randall (LRandall@uusc.org), UUSC's Director of Congregation Relations, if you want to know how your congregation can be involved.
- Note that UUSC office is based in Cambridge, MA, and we have employees located in many parts of the country and frequently travel or Zoom in to congregations around the country. We are eager to engage with congregations nationwide.
- Where does UUSC report and publish the work it does at the UN?
- We publish a UN-quadrennial report that goes to the UN.
- We publish on the UUSC blog.
- UUSC's climate work is all public, included in our annual report. Explore UUSC's reporting on COP27:
- COP27 Partner Profiles
- COP27: Radical Alternatives Needed
- What UUSC’s Partners Had to Say About COP27
- U.S. COP Commitments: Real Solutions or More Greenwashing?
- The International Convocation of Unitarian Universalist Women (IWC) is an NGO in special consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), focusing on global women’s rights and empowerment. Do you see IWC as a potential collaborating partner for engagement with UU values at the United Nations? How do you see IWC fit into these plans?
- Much of UUSC’s work has been partner-facing. We expect to keep exploring partnerships to include with the IWC especially on the UN Commission on the Status of Women.
- Please share about UUSC and UUA relationships with civil society through the Conference of NGOs (CoNGO) working groups (sustainable development, human rights, disarmament, women peace & security, etc.)
- UUSC is attending the Commission on the Status of Women and will attend the UN General Assembly, around Climate Justice Week. We’re planning to build more connections with civil society groups (in NYC and Geneva), doing strategic mapping around whom to connect with our partners.
- The UUA has been involved at the UN on gender and LGBTQ+ issues, and especially at the climate conferences (COPs).
- We’ll be engaging a consultant to help us learn which NGOs we should best connect with.
- It’s important to be connected to interfaith coalitions especially: They carry a moral and ethical weight in matters at the UN.
- We are glad to connect the voices of the grassroots with the broader UU prophetic vision.
- What work is UUA/UUSC doing with Myanmar refugees, and who is coordinating?
- Explore UUSC’s work in Burma/Myanmar.
- UUSC has supported the democracy movement for years. We’re currently supporting partners on the ground to local human rights actors—getting aid to camps, organizing & support (gender, protection), advocacy with international community. We’re also supporting cases to proceed before the International Court on Justice & Accountability.
- One of the greatest areas of need is robust U.S. funding of UN dues, including past dues for Peace Keeping. Is this in the plans for education/outreach so that congregations can be better informed on the need for Congressional funding?
- We’re doing our landscape assessment of the incoming Congress, where we can have the most impact. We set our priorities based on our grassroots partners’