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October 2023


UUA President Rev. Sofía Betancourt’s Video message to UUs at Farming for the Future: Systemic Changes for the Climate Crisis
“Joining together to insist the farm bill reflect concrete climate-smart provisions that throw no one away in the process is a beautiful expression of our faith.” - Rev. Sofía Betancourt

Watch the message on YouTube

Five Questions, Climate Justice, and the US 2023 Federal Farm Bill!
A conversation with Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director, Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice 

“The farm bill...informs what we eat, what our animals eat, and how we produce and distribute all foodstuffs. It frames our approach to anti-hunger programs and the science and financing behind farming...” - Pablo DeJesús 

See the entire piece on the UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) webpage.



A Fascist Campaign in Full View

Wednesday, October 11
8:00 p.m. ET - 7:00 p.m. CT - 6:00 p.m. MT - 5:00 p.m. PT

Ever since J.R. McNeill asked, “How fascist is Donald Trump?” in a Washington Post Op-Ed (Oct 21, 2016), scholars and the media have been debating what to call Mr. Trump’s political campaign.

In this presentation, Dale Anderson, UUSJ Trustee, a Floridian, will explore these issues, relate them to what is happening in Florida, and ask why UUs, democracy advocates, and the media continue to avoid using the “F-word.”


UUSJ Launches Power Sunday

UUSJ launches Power Sunday, asking Congregations to organize worship services on Sunday, October 22nd (and beyond).

UUSJ is asking congregations to help leverage our collective power at the federal level as a people of faith. So many of us feel our democracy is in danger, but we are not powerless; we all have meaningful ways to save our democratic system. One way is to commit to being an active part of civil society, which means committing to our institutions. This includes our home churches and UUSJ as the forward-facing UU organization advocating for our values on Capitol Hill and Washington D.C. with federal decision-makers. 

View the worship materials in a Google folder.

We thank our Board Chair, Rev. Peggy Clarke, Senior Minister of Community Church New York, Unitarian Universalist, and Board Vice-Chair, Rev. Kristin Grassel Schmidt, Senior Minister of Unitarian Universalist Church of Silver Spring, for developing these materials.

Read Full Testimony
Celebration of Life

Legacy Donor Highlight
Pat Karlsen – Engaging With UUSJ

"What I want others to know is — there is a place for everyone to volunteer or get engaged! Children have met with Senate staff on policy matters. Elders have discussed Medicaid issues with their legislators. If advocacy is not your calling, UUSJ helps on witness, like when youth led the way on March for Our Lives, supported by us adults, and the Poor People’s Campaign with President Frederick-Gray and my own Rev. Abhi Janamanchi, or Families Belong Together.  But also with education when the UUSJ policy teams do analysis and strategy or with UUSJ’s training programs and talks on how your congregation can do advocacy more effectively."

UUSJ Board Meeting, October 3 (first Tuesday of each month). For more information, email info@uusj.org.

Advocacy News & Events


Reintroduced, take action to support
John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H.R. 14)

Democracy is based on the principle that all individuals have equal value and should have equal rights and opportunities. The John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act seeks to restore and strengthen portions of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 that were struck down or weakened by the U.S. Supreme Court in several decisions, most notably the 2013 case "Shelby County v. Holder."

The VRAA would return the Voting Rights Act to full strength by holding states accountable when they attempt to disenfranchise voters and restore voters’ ability to challenge discriminatory changes to voting practices. The bill also makes efforts toward transparency by requiring local governments to notify the public of changes to voting practices. 

Send a message with our Action Alert and spread the word with our Poster.


UUs gathered for climate advocacy in DC

Unitarian Universalists came together in Washington, DC, in late September, to advocate for systemic changes in addressing the climate crisis. We used the farm bill as a vehicle for our advocacy conversations. We learned how farming and ranching can provide essential opportunities in addressing the climate crisis. We asked for conservation and climate-smart agriculture as well as equitable USDA programs.

Attendees heard from inspiring and informative speakers in the field Scott Faber, Environmental Working Group; Lloyd Wright, U.S. Department of Agriculture (retired); Joe Van Wye, Farm Action; Karyn Bigelow, Creation Justice Ministries; and Madison Mayhew, Interfaith Power & Light. See the speakers’ page

On Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-ME-1) briefed us on her bill, the Agriculture Resilience Act (H.R.5861 / S.1016) to address national greenhouse gas emission reduction efforts in the U.S. agriculture sector, including a national goal to achieve net-zero emissions by the year 2040. We were also joined by A.V. Whitney, of New Jersey Senator Cory Booker’s office, who shared comments on the Environmental Quality Incentive Program (EQIP) and his related bill EQIP Improvement Act of 2023 (S.658). Geoff Horsfield from the Environmental Working Group also shared insight on how to approach Senate agriculture staff.

UU constituents met with their Senate offices, Democrats and Republicans, many on the Senate Agriculture Committee. UU Ministry for Earth (UUMFE) movement chaplains helped put front and center our progressive faith-based values and principles in our conversations.  We communicated our deep concern for the interdependent web of life. We shared our desire to see farmers offered the tools and programs needed to become partners in addressing the climate crisis. We shared that we see no division between people and the planet. 

UUs for a Just Economic Community convened this conference in partnership with UUMFE and UUSJ as well as the kind support of Side With Love. The UU Funding Program provided financial support to make the conference possible.

Send a message in support of strong climate provisions in the Farm Bill

The 2023 Farm Bill presents a vital opportunity to create a food and agricultural system that provides healthy food for all while helping to avoid a climate crisis and improving equity for consumers and producers. A climate-smart farm bill can achieve many important goals: protecting soil fertility, improving water quality, helping farmers cope with extreme weather, and saving energy. The farm bill must help small-scale distressed farmers and ranchers with loan assistance, including disadvantaged farmers harmed by past discrimination by the USDA. Action Alert

UU News & Events


Climate Week Debrief

Hosted by Rachel Myslivy, UUA
Tuesday, October 3, 2023
7:00 p.m. ET

What happened at Climate Week - in New York City and beyond? Join Side with Love, UU Ministry for Earth, UUs for Social Justice, and UU Service Committee to debrief the events that led up to and took place during Climate Week 2023. We’ll share stories, reflect on victories, lament what’s left to do, and learn what comes next in our collective work for climate justice. Join us to metabolize it all!


Defending Our Democracy

Fred Van Deusen, Democracy Action Team Convener (Democracy@uusj.org)


Voting Rights Strengthen American Democracy

Rep. Terri Sewell (D-AL-07) introduced H.R. 14, the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2023, in September. In response, UUSJ issued the following statement:  Voting Rights Strengthen American Democracy, Congress must pass the John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act. Review the UUSJ Press Release

Send a message with our Action Alert and spread the word with our Poster.

The 2021 UUA General Assembly approved an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW) to Stop Voter Suppression and Partner for Voting Rights and a Multiracial Democracy, as proposed by UUSJ. We remain committed to this work.


The Last Battlefront: Quest for the Vote in Washington, DC 
Film Screening and Q&A

Monday, October 2, 2023
7:00 p.m. ET
All Souls Church, 1500 Harvard Street NW, Washington, DC

Tune in HERE or for onsite attendance RSVP (appreciated but not required).

The All Souls Church Reeb Project for Voting Rights, in partnership with the DC League of Women Voters, is thrilled to host a screening of this one-hour historical documentary on the 235-year-old fight for self-government in Washington, D.C. Written and directed by All Souls congregant and filmmaker Anna Reid Jhirad! After the film, All Souls minister Rev. Bill Sinkford will facilitate a lively Q&A among a diverse group of DC voting rights activists. Light refreshments (including popcorn) will be provided. We hope you’ll come to learn and connect with others dedicated to the cause of self-government.

The Unique Role of Faith Communities in Building a Culture of Democracy

October 4, 2023 
1:00 p.m. ET - Open to all
Register Here

Join A More Perfect Union: The Jewish Partnership for Democracy in dialogue with Jen Walker Thomas, Co-Executive Director of Mormon Women for Ethical Government, as well as Mary Ellen Giess, Chief Innovation Officer of Interfaith America, to learn about the unique role faith communities can play in creating active citizens and strong cultures of democracy.

Financing the 2020 Election
Brookings webinar event

Monday, October 16
10:00 a.m. ET
Watch Online

The 2020 U.S. elections were competitive, nationalized, and saw organizational and technological innovation. New spending records were set, individual contributions—both small and large—grew, and spending by actors other than candidates expanded further. These developments occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic and amidst large-scale protests for racial justice in the summer of 2020.

Join the Governance Studies unit at the Brookings Institution for a webinar to discuss the new book, "Financing the 2020 Election." Contributors to the book will expand upon their findings and offer observations on how the 2024 campaign—already underway—might be shaped by similar dynamics

Immigration Justice

Steve Eckstrand & Terry Grogan, Immigration Action Team Conveners (Immigration@uusj.org)

Cruel and Regrettable Legal Limbo 

In September, Judge Andrew Hanan of the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas again ruled that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program is unlawful. In response, UUSJ issued the following Press Release calling the decision Cruel and regrettable legal limbo; Congress and the Biden Administration must support DACA. 

The 2023 UUA General Assembly approved an Action of Immediate Witness (AIW), Protect the Dreamers, the Recipients of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) with a Pathway to Permanent Residence as proposed by UUSJ. We are committed to this work.

You can take action for Dreamers and other DACA recipients HERE.


UUSJ In Solidarity to End Detentions and Deportations 

Here are a few amazing highlights to summarize the September 2023 day of action with Detention Watch Network! UUSJ is a member of the network.

  • 15 cities held actions across the US
  • 84 organizations co-sponsored, including UUSJ 
  • 2,256 viewers at the DC action livestream (via Instagram), where UUSJ helped anchor
  • Almost 30 media hits
  • It was an immeasurable day of community power + creativity!

Selected National Coverage:

Environmental and Climate Justice

To connect with UUSJ about our activities (info@uusj.org)

March to End Fossil Fuels, NYC

Over 75,000 people took to the streets of New York City at the March to End Fossil Fuels in September, calling on President Joe Biden to stop approving fossil fuel projects, phase down oil and gas drilling, declare a climate emergency, and provide a just and equitable transition off fossil fuels. 

The march was about people's power! Led by New York grassroots organizations, Black, Indigenous, other communities of color, and frontline communities living next to oil and gas facilities and infrastructure across the world; youth, elders, workers, people of faith, and people of all backgrounds impacted by fossil fuels and climate disaster across the United States. 

Sign and blast out this petition to Biden, uplifting our core march demands: bit.ly/EndFossilFuelsNow 

Photos / Videos
Survival Media (photos)
Act.TV (video clips)
See endfossilfuels.us/photos for more!
See the following posts
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez
New York Communities for Change 
Climate Defenders
Food & Water Watch
Oil Change International
New York Times
The Guardian
Financial Times
The Independent
The Loop 
Common Dreams
The Guardian (live coverage)
Associated Press
USA Today

Rally to End Fossil Fuels, DC

UUSJ also joined the Sister Rally in DC, days before NYC, demanding that Members of Congress take action. We heard from impacted community leaders, organizers, youth activists, and members of Congress. Speakers: Sara Thomas (SILA), Sen. Merkley, Sen. Markey, Rep. Tlaib, Rep. Barbara Lee, Rep. Schakowsky, Keanu Arpels-Josiah (FFF NYC).

See the following posts
People vs Fossil Fuels
Sen. MarkeySen. Markey (2)Sen. Markey (3)
Rep. Tlaib
Rep. Barbara Lee
LA Times

Economic Justice

To connect with UUSJ about our activities (info@uusj.org)

Shutdown averted till November

In response to pressure against a shutdown from both civic society and political players, the House on Saturday, September 30th, approved a “clean” stopgap funding bill to keep the government open. Speaker Kevin McCarthy defied his party’s hardliners with the compromise. The decision to move a bill that had support from Democrats may put McCarthy's leadership in further jeopardy.

Hours later, the Senate cleared the bill and sent it to President Joe Biden, who signed the measure ahead of the midnight deadline. The legislation provides a new deadline of November 17 allowing Congress more time to resolve various spending fights.


Multifaith Coalition Called on Congress To Avoid Shutdown

In Washington DC, 53 organizations, including UUSJ, representing people of faith across religious traditions and denominations delivered a letter to the U.S. Congress urging bipartisan action to keep the government operational or risk severe consequences on the most vulnerable members of society. The letter says:

“We agree that the moral vision of our faith communities includes a federal government that ensures the social well-being of every person, especially the most vulnerable members of society. With the U.S. facing the real threat of a government shutdown, that responsibility is being tested. We are called to practice compassion and mutual care for our fellow human beings as core tenets of our sacred teachings. With this in mind, we urge Members of Congress to fund the government and to work in a bipartisan manner to pass a Continuing Resolution without harmful provisions.” 

In support of the letter, quotes by numerous faith-based advocates were offered. 

Pablo DeJesús, Executive Director of Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice, stated, “Government shutdowns solve nothing and improve little. They hurt the most vulnerable people in our communities and wound the most vulnerable communities of our nation. Any deal to sidestep a shutdown must not sidestep our nation’s primary moral responsibility—to care for its people."

Read the letter and associated Press Release.


Consequences and effects of government shutdowns

Commentary: What is a government shutdown? And why are we likely to have another one? Brookings 

On the federal budget, Center for Budget and Policy Priorities President Sharon Parrott released a statement on the House Republican budget, explaining that it reflects a disturbing vision for the country. Richard Kogan and Joel Friedman also listed five things to look for in the House Republican budget resolution.

A Brief Primer on the Impact of a Federal Government Shutdown, Crowell

5 Immediate Shutdown Effects, Center for American Progress

What happens if America’s government shuts down this weekend? The Economist

The Economic And Market Impacts Of A Government Shutdown, Forbes

States brace for impact of government shutdown, Politico

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Contributions are tax-deductible as allowed by law.
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