Social Justice (SJ) is a primary part of our church mission. We believe in “deeds not creeds.” Although we follow the lead of our national association, we focus mainly on local and state needs where we can make a difference. The role of the SJ committee is to help the congregation study global, national, and local issues, and to look for ways for church members and friends to get involved, make a difference, grow spiritually, and, yes, feel good by doing good. On the church website, the social justice drop-down menu includes pages which describe our focus issues.
Our congregation really stepped up to this challenge. Bi-Lo supermarkets welcomed our food drives (five to date, two more pending). Volunteers in the community, including Spartanburg Day School service clubs, Wofford students, and dedicated individuals, made invaluable contributions. I believe our example and our visibility have inspired other churches to help individual schools; Cannons Elementary School has found another sponsor in their neighborhood for next year, and we hope to hear that Cowpens Elementary School has too. We will be continuing with Houston Elementary School for the 2014-2015 school year.
OUR SECOND FOCUS ISSUE this year has been LGBT teens, a very vulnerable group in our community. We encountered several problems and have not been able to make much progress. This remains an area of concern, but, while a few of us continue to work on our goal of a program to help these youth, we did not want to make this a congregational focus without a clear path forward. Hopefully, this will be a focus for the church again.
SHARE THE PLATE AND MORE: Church members contributed time and energy to St. Luke’s Free Clinic, Meals on Wheels, and other volunteer activities. We “shared the plate” with local recipients, including TOTAL Ministries, St. Luke’s Free Clinic, Upstate Pride Festival, and the Minister’s Discretionary Fund, which helps our church members in financial need. Nationally, we gave to UUA’s Oklahoma Storm Relief fund, to First Unitarian Church of Oklahoma City to provide relief for undocumented immigrants, a special class of storm victims.
INTERNATIONALLY, WE CONTRIBUTED TO:
• Grounds for Health, which creates cervical cancer prevention and treatment programs in coffee-growing communities;
• the International Convocation of UU Women, which funds projects such as a microfinance and training program for women in Uganda;
• UUSC’s Gardens for Haitian Families project.
Social Justice Overview
2014 Social Justice Annual Report
Highlights of what our church community has done and is doing for social justice.
Sunday Service at 11:00
Vespers Wednesday at 6:30
CHURCH OF SPARTANBURG
210 Henry Place, 29306
P.O. Box 1942
Spartanburg, SC 29304-1942
Unitarian Universalist Church of Spartanburg
THE FIRST OF OUR FOCUS ISSUES, BACKPACK BUDDIES, has been, by far, our main effort this year. We have helped needy children in three schools (122 children), by giving them bags containing meals and snacks to take home every weekend and Christmas and Spring break. The school administration says this really makes a difference to their children. Our bags contain items better in quality and quantity than what was provided last year, but we accept donations even when they are ramen noodles and Vienna sausages.
GREEN SANCTUARY: Our three-year focus on the green sanctuary program culminated in January in our accreditation as a green sanctuary by UUA! Please see our complete report at www.nutrisutton.com/GSReport.html
This is still an energizing and exciting program for us. We are active in the new Spartanburg Green Congregations endeavors (see more on our green sanctuary webpage under the social justice tab). It’s great to work with other churches and help them become greener!
We decided the best way to move forward was to form a Green Team (GT) subcommittee and ask the Board to authorize it as a GT committee (which would receive an allotment of the SJ budget this year). We have been invited by the UUA manager to be a mentor to another UU church. Susan Griswold and Pam Stoll agreed to co-chair this (sub)committee. We are taking a lead role in Spartanburg Green Congregations’ participation in the League of Women Voters “Earth Day at the Library.”
As we prepare for the congregational vote on focus issues for the coming year, we look forward to new interests and new challenges for our church.