Harvest the Power 2020

Build for This by Molly Costello

Art by Molly Costello; used with permission.

Harvest the Power, inspired by Jim Scott’s hymn “Gather the Spirit”, is a six week confluence of Unitarian Universalist Justice ministries (that began Oct. 21) to deepen our relationships, draw on the sources of wholeness and strength in which we are rooted, and move together in powerful ways for justice. The final phase of this programmatic season is this Harvest the Power Justice Convergence & Teach-In, detailed below.

In 2016, Unitarian Universalists voted to pay special attention to learning our history and rethinking Thanksgiving in the year 2020, in observance of the 400th anniversary of the Pilgrims landing in Plymouth (learn more). The Harvest the Power Justice Convergence & Teach-In provides a week of excellent programs and documentary screenings to ground, center, and inform this commitment, and it is also a convergence point of numerous Unitarian Universalist justice ministries.

As we enter this season of gratitude and care it is important that we come together as a faithful justice movement to strengthen our strategies, our commitments to justice and equity, and our impacts. Given that usual travels and traditions for Thanksgiving holidays are already ostensibly canceled and altered by a rampant pandemic, now is the perfect time to gather and think together virtually, and to begin celebrating differently.

This moment of collective action and faith formation weaves together all Unitarian Universalist justice ministries. This is a shared endeavor between UUA, Side with Love, UU the Vote, and UUMFE. To learn more and register for events, see the detailed program schedule.

Program Highlights

Harvest the Power Convergence & Teach-In Opening CeremonyCelebrate the start of the Harvest the Power Justice Convergence and Teach In with the Opening Ceremony, weaving together worship and grounding conversations for the week ahead. This program will be led by the Diverse Revolutionary UU Multicultural Ministries (DRUUMM) Native Caucus members, Rev. Dr. Clyde Grubbs, Rev. Dr. Maria Cristina Vlassidis Burgoa, Kia Bordner, Sangye Hawke, Ian McAlpin, and Rev. Gary McAlpin. View on YouTube.

Worship Service "Thanksgiving Reframed": This worship service will include musical and spoken word from Hartman Deetz, Wampanoag artist and activist, and a sermon from UUA President Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray. There will be an offertory special collection for the Create Climate Justice – Indigenous Solidarity Fund with the UU Ministry for Earth. Worship leaders: Ann Gilmore, Nina Lytton, and Aly Tharp. View on YouTube.

“Historically, UU ministers were instrumental in creating this U.S. holiday and the “Pilgrims and the Indians” pageant tradition that roots the holiday in an historically inaccurate and harmful colonial narrative. Many UU congregations in New England can trace their lineage directly back to early settler congregations that had a role in the genocide of Native communities. As a religious tradition, we cannot decide who we will be without reckoning with the truth of who some of our ancestors were…

This year, let us be grateful in a genuine manner. Let our gratitude flow from our deep, ongoing commitment to justice and equity. Let our gratitude grow from the opportunities we have to be together authentically—whether virtually or in person. Please join me as we reimagine this day and gather in community to honor Indigenous ancestors, experiences and traditions. May it be a time to reflect and find meaning in how our shared values connect us. ” – UUA President, Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray in “A Message From The UUA President: Honoring Indigenous Ancestors, Experiences and Traditions


  • Chalice Lighting is a traditional prayer of gratitude in the Wampanoag language by Hartman Deetz, Wampanoag artist and activist.
  • Download the text of Rev. Susan Frederick-Gray's sermon
  • Download the video of this worship service, for congregational use
  • Download the slide deck for the service, for congregational use

How We Win: Debrief and Visioning from UU the Vote: Roundtable of UU The Vote leaders and partners to debrief the great work accomplished through UU the Vote this year, and to share reflections and announcements about where this monumentally successful campaign will go from here.

Upcoming Events

November 24: Prepare to Care: Stop Line 3: 4:30-6pm PT / 5:30-7 MT / 6:30-8 CT / 7:30-9 ET
Hosted by UUSC & Minnesota UU Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA)

This workshop will feature updates from climate justice leaders working in frontline communities across Northern Minnesota. We’ll discuss the impacts that the proposed Line 3 oil pipeline could have on our water, land, and communities, and we will explore effective ways that people can join or support the Stop Line 3 resistance movement. This workshop will also include information about nonviolent direct action and other creative and caring conflict intervention opportunities. We’ll close by learning a water song together. Register to participate.

Joining this program to share from their perspectives and communities:

Winona LaDuke is an internationally renowned activist working on issues of sustainable development renewable energy and food systems. She lives and works on the White Earth reservation in northern Minnesota, and is a two time vice presidential candidate with Ralph Nader for the Green Party. She is co-founder and Executive Director of Honor the Earth.

Tara Houska, Couchiching First Nation Anishinaabe, tribal attorney and land defender, founder of Giniw Collective, writer and advocate on a range of indigenous rights issues, environmental justice and institutional racism.

Rita Chamblin, Unitarian Universalist layleader, environmental justice advocate and resident of Northern Minnesota, Bemidji liaison for Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light (MNIPL).

Gaagigeyaashiik (Dawn Goodwin), an advocate for Nimaamaa-Aki (Mother Earth), a protector of manoomin (wild rice) and water from Lower Rice Lake on the White Earth Reservation. Co-founder of RISE Coalition—Resilient Indigenous Sisters Engaging with our Allies.

Shanai Matteson is a writer, visual artist, mother, and cultural community organizer. She is from rural Palisade, Minnesota, on the proposed Line 3 route, and works on a range of issues related to environmental and racial justice, to bridge cultural and social class divides, and as an ally to indigenous rights advocates.

Lyz Jaakola, musician and educator, and an enrolled member of the Fond du Lac band of Lake Superior Ojibwe in Cloquet, MN. She teaches at Fond du Lac Tribal Community College and is a newly elected member of the Cloquet City Council.

Sharon Day, enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe, second degree M’dewin, and Executive Director of Indigenous Peoples Task Force since 1990. Grandmother, artist, musician, writer, and leader of Nibi (Water) Walks, an extended ceremony to heal and honor water.

November 26 Plymouth Day of Mourning 50th Anniversary Virtual Observance : Livestream to be hosted on Side with Love and UUA FB pages.

Ahead of these events, ground yourself in our theological grounding around decarceration, decriminalization, and democracy.

Land Loves Us Back by Molly Costello

Art by Molly Costello, used with permission

Spiritual and Theological Grounding

Educational Background

  • Doctrine of Discovery: The Doctrine of Discovery is built into U.S. government, laws, dominant culture, and the way we think about problems that face our nation and world. It is a frame that hides in plain sight, and its devastating effects continue to this day. The 2012 UUA General Assembly passed a resolution repudiating the doctrine and calling for the full implementation of the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples (UNDRIP).
  • An Invitation to Move Toward Land Acknowledgments & Beyond: Research, acknowledgement and development of relationships and solidarity with Indigenous people are an important part of resisting and countering the ongoing erasure of Indigenous people. They are also an important part of the reckoning of our congregational and denominational participation in or benefitting from our white supremacist colonial past and present.
  • Plymouth 400th Remembrance in 2020: A major focus of the 2020 General Assembly (GA) was partnership with Indigenous leaders in the Northeast and beyond to explore how to co-exist in right relationship with one another and the land we occupy. This is a curated collection of programs to view from General Assembly 2020, inviting reflection and action.

Opportunities for Action

  • Petition calling on the Bureau of Prisons to address the public health crisis in federal prisons and decarcerate Indigenous Water Protector Rattler and other prisoners who have minimal time remaining on their sentences
  • Participate in UU the Vote's Week of Action, and help to reach 2 million eligible voters ahead of Election Day.
  • Get your weekly update of what is happening in movement at this moment with Side With Love, UUA, UUSC, and BlackPAC in our Movement Moday Moment livestream, Mondays through November 9, 12:30pm ET - 1:15pm ET.