Social Action/Social Justice
We welcome diversity of ability, age, class, culture, ethnicity, gender, race, religious and nonreligious backgrounds, and sexual orientation.
Proudly Affirming Certification as a Welcoming Congregation
After 18 months of extensive training and development our Congregation voted unanimously to become a Welcoming Congregation, certified by the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations. We are inclusive and expressive of the joys and concerns of bisexual, gay, lesbian, and/or transgender persons and their families at every level of congregational life—in worship, in programs, in leadership, and in social occasions, welcoming not only their presence but blessed by their gifts and involvement throughout the life of the Congregation
“May We Turn More to Act than to Word to Declare Our Religion”
Unitarianism and Universalism, and since 1961 “Unitarian Universalism” have long been faith traditions that encouraged our religious ideas to be tested in our day to day human living. Do they make sense in terms of what I experience, and in terms of how I experience life? Are they “reasonable” ideas? If yes, well fine then. If no, then feel free to let them go.
The other maxim of our dual tradition is to declare our beliefs more in our actions than in our words…in other words, to show what we believe in by how we live our lives, who we include in our lives, how much compassion we show, the extent that we are, in the words of the hymn by Holly Near, “a gentle angry people” seeking more justice for those with less power.
Therefore, our tradition was very involved in the civil rights movement of the 60’s and 70’s, and on up to this decade. Two Unitarians, Rev. James Reeb and Viola Liuozo were murdered as they worked in the south with Martin Luther King, Jr. Westside Unitarian Universalist members, in the early days of the 60’s, were activists who organized sit-ins in real estate offices to protest “red lining”, the practice of disallowing African Americans from buying homes in West Seattle. Members were also active in tutoring of low and moderate income students, in environmental projects, and in anti-war protests.
This tradition of activism continues to this day, where we enjoy a wonderful balance of programs that nurture our spirits, with programs that expand upon justice–feeding our spirits and taking love and justice out into the wider world. In addition to our monthly financial gift to a social justice agency nominated by members, here are some of our major action projects:
Faces of Immigration
Our congregation has been deliberately trying to see a more personal side of the immigration issues of our country—to come face to face with people directly affected.
• The minister attended protests a year ago in Phoenix, protesting the #1070 legislation that allowed people who “looked like they could be illegal” to be stopped by police, for no other reason…in fact mandating it. We were most taken by our conversations with people whose loved ones were suddenly gone, with no notice allowed to loved ones.
• Recently our congregation’s Social Justice Committee has been focusing on these issues, with about twelve of us touring the Detention Center in Tacoma. I encourage you to read Mike Wold’s well written summary of his impressions of our visit and his experiences at vigils held outside the Center (LINK).
• Our Common Quest Adult Religious Exploration Program participated in the UUA’s “Common Read” program, reading Margaret Regan’s The Death of Josseline: Immigration Stories from the Arizona-Mexico Borderlands (Beacon Press, 2010), which is a book that reports on experiences of and with undocumented people, from many points of view, including federal authorities, ranchers and home owners near the border, immigrants, family members, humanitarians leaving water and food in the deserts, etc. There are copies you can check out of our church library, if you like.
• Here is a link to on-line resources to become more informed about these issues at the UUA website, including a statement as to why immigration is a moral issue. http://www.uua.org/socialjustice/issuesprocess/currentissues/immigration/index.shtml
Standing on the Side of Love
Just before Valentine’s Day Rev. Marian Stewart of the Northlake Unitarian Universalist Church and our minister Rev. Peg Morgan visited the office of every legislator in Olympia who voted for the Domestic Partnership bill last year, the bill that stood up to Ref. 71. They gave them valentines from our children to thank them for “standing on the side of love.” The legislators and their staff were very appreciative of the Thank You, particularly saying that they need to know that there are clergy who support gay rights.
Interfaith Rally for YES on Ref. 71, to protect domestic partnership rights, October 18, 2009. See more photos here.
WAUU Voices for Justice
This is a statewide UU voice in Olympia lobbying for legislation that is in accordance with our values, e.g. basic life needs of people, equality for our gay and lesbian sisters and brothers. Voices for Justice is a separate non-profit organization, supported by contributions from individuals and congregations. For more information and to get involved see their web site: http://www.uuvoiceswa.org/
Habitat for Humanity
In 2009 we helped build a Puget Sound UU Habitat home, right here in High Point, West Seattle. This was a year-long project of Wednesdays and Saturdays working with UUs from University Unitarian and East Shore. Photo on right: Rev. Peg Morgan from the Westside Unitarian Universalists leading a House Blessing.
Some of the Westside Unitarian Universalist members, including left to right: Gary Gertig, Viv Monahan, Arlene Borella, President Paula vanHaagen, John Monahan, Fifie Marie, Lynn Williams receiving a thank you from Habitat for Humanity for a year’s worth of construction volunteers and funds.
Mother’s Day March for Peace
To commemorate Mother’s Day in the spirit of the original celebration—which was aimed at ending all war—the Westside Unitarian Universalist Congregation staged a march from the building at 40th Ave SW to the West Seattle Junction, where the marchers met up with West Seattle Neighbors for Peace and Justice members who regularly hold a peace vigil from noon to 1 p.m. each Sunday. About 30 UU members, including Rev. Peg Morgan, joined the march, which was one of the biggest and liveliest peace gatherings at the Junction in recent years.
This event—Moms Against the War—was a way to demonstrate to our West Seattle community that mothers want to be honored on this day with peace. It is a reminder that women have been marching for peace since at least 1870, when Mother’s Day was founded by Julia Ward Howe. Howe, a Unitarian, wrote a famous “Mother’s Day Proclamation” calling for peace. My favorite lines from that proclamation are:
Our sons shall not be taken from us to unlearn
All that we have been able to teach them of charity, mercy and patience.
(A copy of the proclamation is available at http://www.peace.ca/mothersdayproclamation.htm)
This Mother’s Day march was extra special because about 10 children joined in. At the end of the vigil, we observed five minutes of silence and then, we sang several verses of Holly Near’s famous peace song, “We are a Gentle Angry People.”
Our Orion Feeding Project
Preparing Monthly Meals for Homeless Teens at Orion Center.
Once a month our teens prepare food for the teens that come into the downtown Orion Center. Below is a picture from the first month, after they prepared a sumptuous taco buffet!
Marriage Equality and Civil Rights for our Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Brothers and Sisters
Our congregation has a long history of advocacy for the civil rights of our GLBT brothers and sisters. We have long authorized “Life Partnership” ceremonies for gay and lesbian people. We voted unanimously as a congregation to add our name to the amicus briefs that went to the State Supreme Court seeking equal marriage rights. We voted unanimously to be a Welcoming Congregation, after exploring our biases and learned prejudice, whether we are gay or straight or…We annually have a group of congregants go to Olympia to add our numbers to the demonstration in favor of GLBT rights. And our minister, Rev. Peg Morgan has long been involved in all of these activities and as a clergy spokesperson and demonstrator for equal civil rights.