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Social Justice

South Church has a long-standing commitment to community health and social justice. Our members and friends serve in a number of ways, both independently and through the church. We are invested in local concerns, such as homelessness and hunger on the Seacoast, and national issues like LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender) rights, environmental concerns and gun violence prevention.

Our congregation sponsors programs and events, but also has long-standing relationships with organizations doing good work with the community. Past special events have included bus trips to New York City and Washington, D.C. to participate in Environmental Justice rallies, vigils to raise awareness about gun violence and racial justice issues, and forums on a variety of topics. . Commitment to social engagement and environmental health is a value that transcends all facets of congregational life.

CURRENT INITIATIVES:

The Social Justice Associates at South Church are actively involved in advocacy efforts, currently including immigration rights, climate change and voting rights.  The Social Justice Associates will regularly inform all members of South Church about events and initiatives important to our congregation. 

With the upcoming elections, the Social Justice Associates at South Church are working to educate members of our congregation and the wider community on voting rights, voter suppression and impediments to voting. We are working with the ACLU NH, The League of Women Voters and other organizations to get out up-to-date and factual information on voting in the upcoming ME and NH primary and general elections. To do this, we would like to know what questions you have about registering to vote and voting. Please take a few minutes to answer these few questions. Thank you!

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLSeHIOyX8kGCLaaiLVL01Ybm-ZqTUjagPHaHUJAXlN8h5h3cdA/viewform?usp=sf_link

Additionally, we are collaborating with the ACLU in NH and The League of Women Voters to help spread the word on voter rights.  One avenue will be posters with stakes that can be set up in your yard.  The posters will point to voting rights information in NH and Maine.  Wording for Side 1 (Each will also have a small sponsored by line.): Simple NH Voting Info. VoteNH2020.org    

Side 2: Simple ME Voting Info. Vote411.org/maine

The Social Justice Associates will be selling posters for $10 with proceeds going to either the ACLU or The League of Women Voters.  If you might be interested in purchasing a poster, please contact Robin Schnell: r.hary.schnell@gmail.com.


 

For 2019-2020, the SJA is focused on the following key themes: 

  • Immigrant Justice 
  • Voting Rights 
  • Climate Justice  

Immigrant Justice 

Goal: advocate for a humane, just and timely immigration system.

Strategy: Join with others to call out and work to end policies and practices that criminalize and dehumanize our immigrant and refugee neighbors who seek a refuge from violence and persecution, and a new life among us.

Objectives: 

  • Sponsor events that educate our congregants and the wider community about: the impacts of inhumane immigration and refugee policies on our neighbors; actions and strategies that will support our immigrant and refugee neighbors; and policies and practices which promote a humane immigration system.  
  • Inform and encourage congregants and members of the community to take action to support policies, behaviors and practices that promote a humane immigration system and to resist those that run counter to such a system.  
  • Work with other organizations to present a united front for implementing a humane immigration system. 

Voting Rights 

Goal: Promote equitable access to the right to vote for all citizens.

Strategy: Join with others to remove impediments to voter participation. 

Objectives: 

  • Educate our congregants and the wider community about voting rights, voter suppression and impediments in order to remove impediments to voter participation. 
  • Encourage congregants and members of the community to take action in support of policies and practices that will remove impediments to voter participation and protect voting rights of all. 
  • Work with other organizations to present a united front for implementing solutions to voter suppression. 

Climate Justice 

Goal: contribute to efforts to stop climate change.

Strategy: Join with others to halt practices that fuel climate change, to promote sustainable alternatives, and to mitigate the negative impacts on populations least able to adapt. 

Objectives: 

  • Sponsor events that educate our congregants and the wider community about the causes, consequences, and possible remediation of climate change. 
  • Inform and encourage congregants and members of the community to take action in support of policies, behaviors and practices that will address climate change. 
  • Work with other organizations to present a united front for implementing solutions to climate change. 

 

To find out more about our current events and activities please visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/SouthChurchSJA.

Over the years, South Church has developed ongoing relationships with organizations doing good work in the community.

Seacoast Family Promise

Seacoast Family Promise is part of a national organization that works with congregations to house temporarily homeless families.

Twice a year, for a total of three weeks, our church provides evening shelter to a small number of families with children. Volunteers provide meals, set-up and breakdown of living spaces, overnight hosting, and other support. During the remainder of the year, there are many ways to help out. Members can donate household items for families transitioning into permanent housing, help with SFP’s annual auction, volunteer in the SFP day center and more.

If you’d like more information about SFP and how to plug in, please contact our SFP Coordinating Team at sfpcoordinator@gmail.com.

The Seacoast Family Food Pantry provides food for our Seacoast neighbors of all ages. South Church has engaged in a number of initiatives over the years, including our annual Bring Your Weight in Food Drive which takes place in early fall. The event is timed to boost the Pantry’s stores at a time when they tend to run low. In summer of 2015, the church sponsored a Summer Meals for Kids program. Each week, members were encouraged to bring a different fresh fruit or vegetable, to be sent home with families whose access to free lunches stops over the summer.

Soup Kitchen

Our local branch of the Salvation Army serves free meals to folks in our community every day of the week. Each second Saturday of the month South Church works in partnership with the Salvation Army to host a meal for the hungry. South Church volunteers prepare and serve a meal to share. If you’d like to help out or be notified of upcoming Soup Kitchen events, please contact coordinator Peter Okhuysen at bikingpete@gmail.com.

Bring Your Weight in Food Drive

Bring your Weight in Food drive brings congregants of all ages together for our annual food drive to support the Seacoast Family Food Pantry. Congregants are encouraged to bring donations equaling their weight, the weight of the smallest child.. the weight of a beloved pet—in food donations! Basically, bring as much as you can! We collect the donations at church where our Senior Youth group load it up and bring it over to the food pantry.

Children's Chapel Collection

Children’s Chapel Collection our elementary aged students engage in a children’s chapel on the first Sunday of most months. As a part of this program, children at South church can mirror the community support endeavors we engage in through the collections at worship. Our children’s chapel goers explore a number of community charities during the year, and vote on a recipient who receives half of our annual collection.

Fair Trade Coffee/Tea Sale

Upper elementary students at South Church assist in a monthly sale of Fair trade goods during social hour. The profits of this sale benefit the UUSC and Sustainable Harvest International, an organization with whom our congregation has close ties.

H.O.M.E.

H.O.M.E. is a comprehensive community service organization based in Orland, Maine. Past involvement has included day-long service trips, and wreath-making at the holidays. For more information about our involvement with H.O.M.E., please contact Director of Religious Education, Kirsten Hunter at kirsten@southchurch-uu.org.

Community Action and Events

There are many more opportunities during the year. Keep an eye on our Nuusflash to hear whats happening now!