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All Justice is Local: UU State Action Networks

By Rachel Walden

Love Resists aims to connect justice seekers to build a movement that makes all communities safer. But we’re not starting from scratch. In fact, we are maximizing existing justice networks in regions where the need is most acute by working closely with Unitarian Universalist State Action Networks. Get to know this growing web of justice seekers taking action in their states and local communities.

It’s a National Network

State Action Networks (SANs) can go by many names--from justice ministries to legislative advocacy networks to interfaith alliances--but they are all connected to a larger body, the Coalition of Unitarian Universalist State Action Networks (CUUSAN). Formed in 2015 and 2016, CUUSAN is an informal organization for collecting resources and facilitating connection among individual SANs. Most helpful of these resources is probably their online directory of SANs across the United States. If you’re interested in getting involved with legislative advocacy and justice work that impacts your local community, find the SAN nearest you or consider starting your own!

Benefits of Being Connected

Maybe you’re already a part of your congregation’s social justice committee or you’ve been out in the streets with activist groups for a while now. You might wonder, “Why bother adding another organizational layer?” We’re a little biased, but state-level SANs offer a lot of resources and opportunities like the following:

  • Timely information on actions affecting your community.

  • Resources and research on justice issues.

  • A community of like-minded folks you can activate for specific events.

  • Support and guidance for getting your congregation involved in justice work at the local level.

  • Justice-oriented worship services to inspire and inform your congregation.

  • Professional development and networking opportunities.

At the national level, CUUSAN holds a professional development day each year, on the Wednesday that kicks off the Unitarian Universalist Association's (UUA) General Assembly. The event is intended to help folks connect to build community and often includes a lunch organized by issue area to allow folks to break bread and share knowledge. Contact CUUSAN to learn more.

A Closer Look: Texas UU Justice Ministry

Rev. Chuck Freeman is the executive director of the Texas UU Justice Ministry, a vibrant justice group organizing and advocating in Texas around three main issue areas: reproductive justice, immigrant and refugee justice, and economic justice. They also lend their support to actions and advocacy on other issues that align with UU values. A very proud moment for this SAN came in 2015, when Guatemalan immigrant and LGBTQ advocate Sulma Franco was granted a stay of deportation after spending nearly three months living in sanctuary in the First Unitarian Church in Austin.

This effort developed out of a relationship between the Justice Ministry and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), who had been collaborating to protect Austin community members from Immigration and Customs Enforcement deportation efforts, and a long-standing relationship with First Unitarian Church in Austin.

Rev. Freeman is eager to see the Texas UU Justice Ministry grow through deeper involvement in the Love Resists campaign. With support from the UUA, UUSC, and the UU College of Social Justice, they hope to expand their model of building community sanctuary to other cities in Texas and to develop new sanctuary models in Austin, where the network is well-established. If you’re in Texas and you’re looking for an entry point into expanding sanctuary, connect with the Texas UU Justice Ministry!

Support What You Love and it Will Grow

In these alarming days of openly-bigoted rhetoric from political leaders and widespread criminalization of families and communities, we need to financially support engines of resistance. Supporting SANs at the state level level means you can have a direct and positive impact in creating safer communities where you live and throughout the country. Each network operates as a financially-independent nonprofit organization, which means they must find their own funding. Get in touch with your local SAN to learn how you can donate to help this vital work continue.

Join us on the Love Resists campaign as we harness the power of these networks and the passion and energy of individuals like yourself to make our communities safer and more welcoming.

Love Resists is a joint campaign of the Unitarian Universalist Association and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, launched to protect the values of our democracy and the rights of communities most at risk. Guided by three principles, to expand sanctuary, grow solidarity, and raise our voice, Love Resists seeks to empower people to resist the criminalization of our neighbors and communities, and create a safer, more just, welcoming, and sustainable world. Get connected at

About the Author

Rachel Walden

Rachel Walden is the communications specialist in the UUA Office of Information and Public Witness.

For more information contact

Find the State Action Network near you with the CUUSAN online directory.

Learn more

Give me shelter: How my congregation in Austin, Texas, decided to give sanctuary to an LGBT activist facing deportation.

Read the story in UU World