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United Nations Sunday

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What is UN Sunday?

United Nation (UN) Sunday celebrates the work of the United Nations and your Unitarian Universalist (UU) United Nations Office. Each year we encourage congregations have a service and/or event to celebrate!  We create a UN Sunday Resource Packet (PDF, 32 pages) which highlights our suggested theme and provides readings, an RE curriculum, planning timeline and checklist, order of service (including hymns) and more! Request a materials box by contacting the Envoy Coordinator or download and print out your own materials from our Envoy Resources page.  Our UN Sunday theme is based on our April Intergenerational Spring Seminar topic. Our 2016 theme is The Colors of Inequality: Costs and Consequences. Please address economic inequality on local and global scales.

As UN Day is October 24th, we invite you to hold the 2016 service and/or event on October 23rd. If this date in unavailable, try another weekend in October. If October is booked, check the UN Sunday Resource Packet for alternate dates or feel free to contact the Envoy Coordinator for alternative dates supportive of the theme.

Learn more about UN Day and how you can celebrate below.

What You Can Do

Here is the 2016 UN Sunday Packet:

We encourage Ministers, Lay Leaders as well as Youth and Adult Envoys to take advantage of our prepared materials and/or develop your own ideas for a UN Sunday service. We have updated our packet to better assist those involved with the planning and execution of the service or event.

We especially encourage a multigenerational service, so be sure to include children and youth in UN Sunday! Check out our UN Religious Education curriculum for some inspiration on how to get all ages involved. Often, a UU-UNO Envoy or even a special UN speaker presents the sermon. Many congregations invite UU-UNO staff to speak. Sermons can be submitted to our Dana Greeley Sermon Competition for a chance to be featured on this website, receive an honorarium, and present the sermon at a United Nations Office event during the Unitarian Universalist Association General Assembly (see more information on this below).

Additionally, we ask congregations to dedicate their UN Sunday offering to support the work of the UU-UNO, and to inform their members of the benefits of becoming supporters. The UU-UNO exists to provide a unique UU perspective at the United Nations. We depend on individual and congregational support. We hope to receive your support, your involvement, your engagement and your enthusiastic financial donations to change the world so that every person can enjoy a safe and dignified life. The Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office thanks participating congregations for their time and commitment to the values shared by both the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA) and the UN. As the activist Dorothea Dix said, “Where there is so much to be done, there must be something for me to do.”

Our UN Sunday theme follows our Intergenerational Spring Seminar topic. Our 2016 focus was on economic inequality. Find your Envoy for assistance and to learn more. Don't have an Envoy yet? Contact our Envoy Coordinator for assistance and materials.

May each UN Sunday be inspiring to all.

Dana Greeley Award

The UU-UNO invites submissions of sermons or addresses that speak to building a more just international community. The award honors the memory of Reverend Dana McLean Greeley, the first president of the Unitarian Universalist Association and a strong support of the United Nations. Winners receive a $500.00 honorarium and the opportunity to deliver an excerpt their winning address at UUA General Assembly or Canadian Unitarian Council National Conference.

The sermon theme should follow the topic of the most recent Intergenerational Spring Seminar. Papers highlighting the work of the UN and the UU-UNO will enjoy priority consideration.

Winner of the 2015 Award— Only Love Can  Douglas Harrell 

Douglas Harrell attended his first UU service while visiting friends in Connecticut after the death of his first wife, Carolyn, in 2001 and quickly realized that he had been a UU his whole life without realizing it. Doug and his wife, Michelle, attend the UU Society of Millcreek, Delaware where he leads Sunday RE for the senior youth. Doug is also a regular summer visitor to the UU of Southern Delaware in Lewes. An engineer by profession, Doug has a passion for history, including religious history. He is a firm believer in studying the lessons of the past to gain insight into the problems of today, as he does in his sermon, “Only Love Can.”


2016 Theme: The Colors of Inequality: Costs and Consequences

  1. Sermons must be the original work of the individual submitting and must not have been published previously. Though copyright of the sermon will remain the property of the preparer, the UU-UNO will have initial rights to publish and print the sermon and any further use of the sermon in print will acknowledge the UU-UNO’s Rev. Dana McLean Greeley Sermon Competition as the source of inspiration.
  2. All quotations must be documented. The sermon should be 2,500 words or less.
  3. Submissions will be accepted electronically in Word or pdf format. The text must be typed, double-spaced, and in Times New Roman, 12pt font.
  4. Submissions should include a brief cover letter about the author, including contact information (telephone, mailing address, email address). Do NOT include your name on the typed pages of the sermon entered, as all entries will be judged anonymously. Do number the pages sequentially. Send submissions to unitednations [at] uua [dot] org.
  5. Content of the sermon: Sermon should address the topic of global economic inequality. While all submissions will be considered, those highlighting the work of the United Nations and the UU-UNO will be given consideration. Be sure to read our mission and programs.
  6. Submit your sermon: unitednations [at] uua [dot] org. Deadline for submissions is February 1, 2017.

History of UN Day

Following World War II, the United Nations (UN) was founded on  October 24, 1945. The UN is a global association of governments that facilitates cooperation in international law, security, economic development, and social equality. With aims to protect human rights and achieve world peace, it is a center for governments to communicate and develop strategies to reach these ends. Since its founding, October 24 has been called United Nations Day. In 1971, the United Nations General Assembly adopted a resolution recommending that the day be observed as a public holiday by Member States.

In celebration of this annual event, the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) invites congregations and individual Unitarian Universalists to deepen their understanding of the United Nations by devoting one service in October to reaffirming the connections between Unitarian Universalist (UU) principles and vital issues dealt with at the UN. Usually, congregations organize a UN Sunday for the last Sunday in October, but any Sunday in October would work.

For a brief and insightful history of United Nations Day and the UU-UNO, check out "They called it UN Day (PDF)" by Frank B. Frederick, a UU lawyer who was involved with starting UN DAY and the UU-UNO.


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