The work of social justice is an important, indeed essential, part of the Unitarian Church of Sharon. Everyone is invited to participate in our social justice work and programming. Our Social Justice Steering Committee meets monthly, chaired by Gare Reid and Mia Joiner-Moore. Below is a description of our on going social justice program:
MainSpring House in Brockton: MainSpring House is both a homeless shelter and a place for people be be resettled into permanant housing. We have an on going commitment to MainSpring House to: (1) Provide 100 bag lunches each month (which we put together ourselves); (2) Provide food and service for a dinner (approximately once every two months); (3) Provide on going financial support.
Local Food Pantries: We have an on going commitment to help our local food pantries, particularly the one closest to us in Stoughton. We collect non-perishable food and deliver it to the pantry weekly. We provide on going financial support.
Shopping for Justice: We encourage everyone in our church community to purchase supermarket gift cards at church. These are used for full face value at the supermarket while the supermarket gives us 5% profit. This 5% goes entirely to relieve hunger and homelessness. So when you shop we invite you to “shop for justice” by using these gift cards and also by buying goods that we will deliver to the local food pantry.
Fair Trade Sales: We sell Equal Exchange items of coffee, tea, chocolates and other goods. This supports the Equal Exchange fair trade network around the world, and all profits we make go directly into funding our social justice programs.
English for Speakers of Other Languages: We offer a weeky class, in conjunction with Literacy Volunteers of Stoughton/Sharon, in our church library. Three members of our church have been teachers thus far and new teachers are always welcomed.
Welcoming Congregation: We are fully and enthusiastically committed to full rights for everyone regardless of sexual orientation. Throughout the year we will find ways to support the lesbian, gay, bi-sexual, and transgendered communities. We make a special point to participate in the Gay Pride parade each year in Boston.
Ugandan New Life School: In one of the poorest regions of the world, New Life School of Uganda provides education (grades 1-7) to those who otherwise would have none. Attached to the school is an orphanage for children whose parents have died of AIDS. The school and orphanage is open to everyone. It is managed by the Unitarian Universalist Church in Uganda and directed by Rev. Mark Kiyimba. The Unitarian Church of Sharon is paired with the third grade of New Life School. Our children are “pen pals” with their children. In addition, we promise to provide $2,500 each year to the school for its financing. Each grade of the school has been paired with a Unitarian Universalist Church in the USA.
Partner Church: The Unitarian Church in Romania began in the year 1568. The Unitarians there have survived centuries of persecution and attempts at ethnic cleansing. In the 20th century they were driven into desparate poverty under the C0mmunist regime. We are partnered with a Unitarian Church in the Transylvanian area of Romania. We correspond and exchange visits. We provide financial assitance on a yearly basis. Our Partner connects us to our long and proud Unitarian history.
ATRAVES: Youth and adults from our church have travelled to Nicaragua through ATRAVES to live and work at an educational and medical center. We provide yearly financial assistance to the center and in June of 2012 a group of youth and adults from our church volunteered in Managua.
Immigration: Immigration has been selected by our parent denomination as a key social justice issue for involvement. We have been actively supporting the work of Centro Presente in Somerville, a center of education, support, and advocacy for the rights of immigrants in Massachusetts.
Environmental: We are all increasingly aware of how we humans have polluted the earth and now threaten it further through greenhouse gases and global warming. We identify environmental groups to support financially and we lobby for important legislation as it arises.
Brown Envelope Contributions: Our major fundraising vehicle is our “brown envelope” collection each Sunday morning and evening during worship services. Each month a social justice organization or charity is chosen to support. During a Sunday service a presentation is made about the organization and the issue is works on. During the month members contribute to the organization by placing a donation in a “brown envelope” during the collection. In the recent past the following organizations received our support: MainSpring House – $2,025; Centro Presente $1,086; UUSC Pakistani Emergency Relief $700; Partner Church Council $995; Gifts for Kids (holiday gifts) $420; Local food pantries $1,500; Central Asia Institute $1,242; Standing on the Side of Love $359; UUSC Japan Relief Fund $832; ATRAVES $959; Minister’s Discretionary Fund $1,000; ACS (environmental work) $500; GLSEN (LGBT advocacy) $980; Mid-South tornado relief $575; Western Massachusetts tornado relief $500, Partner Church in Romania $1,736, Famine Relief in Somalia $1,431, Fistula Foundation $989,
We have a lively social justice program at the Unitarian Church of Sharon. Our work is constantly evolving and deepening. You are invited to participate at any level – small or large.