Today Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice in the National Capital Region (UUSJ) delivered a letter signed by Unitarian Universalist Association President Rev. Peter Morales to Todd Stern, U.S. Special Envoy for Climate Change, urging the U.S. Department of State to speak out in support of a strong, compassionate, and binding international climate agreement at the COP21 Paris Climate Conference.
Six leaders from UUSJ traveled to the U.S. Department of State and met with Special Representative Shaun A. Casey of the Office of Religion and Global Affairs, his staff Liora Dana and Christine Li, and Jesse Young, Senior Advisor to Todd Stern, and discussed the letter (below), the Action of Immediate Witness on climate change passed at the UUA General Assembly in June, and the fact that a strong, international climate agreement is a moral imperative.
by Beth Brownfield and Deborah Cruz
The Bellingham Unitarian Fellowship (BUF) of Bellingham, WA, is a relatively small congregation with just over 250 members. Yet we have made a large impact in our local community and our larger denomination with our social justice initiatives, one of which is our Native Americans Connections Committee.
Little did we realize when we started out that the impacts of our work would be felt so far, so wide, or so deeply. We are in awe of what we’ve been privileged to be a significant part of.
The UU Young Adults for Climate Justice (UUYACJ) had something of a home run last month, in delivering three very successful workshops at the UUA General Assembly in Portland.
We are thankful to all the participants and fellow-organizers who made General Assembly such a show of force for climate justice organizing within our faith community and the world at large. In total, there were more than twenty workshops about climate justice! We also had a very meaningful Public Witness event with the Lummi Nation, learning about their struggles for climate justice in their traditional territories.
Thank you for your witness!
2,500 people showed up for climate justice and Indigenous rights on June 27 in Portland, Oregon, in person or via live stream.
Together we listened to the story, struggle, and wisdom of leaders from Lummi Nation at the front lines of the environmental crisis, then we co-created a powerful ritual of sending blessings to the four directions and making spiritual commitments to climate justice.
On June 28, 2015, the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association passed a resolution calling on Unitarian Universalists to take action for a livable climate. This "Action of Immediate Witness" was one of four social justice statements passed by the General Assembly this June.
On June 27, 2015, more than 2,500 Unitarian Universalists and allies gathered for "A Sacred Public Witness," sponsored by Commit2Respond. Attendees listened to the story, struggle, and wisdom of leaders from Lummi Nation, who are on the front lines of the environmental crisis, and then co-created a powerful ritual of sending blessings to the four directions and making spiritual commitments to climate justice.
In a few short hours thousands of Unitarian Universalists gathered in Portland, Oregon, will join together with other people of faith and conscience, regional activists, and Indigenous partners for a powerful event to bear witness to the struggles of front-line communities (particularly First Nations), take a moral stand against climate change and the fossil fuels industry, and call for climate justice.
"Environmental justice" isn't just a new way to say "environmentalism"—it's an entirely different approach.
Environmentalism generally looks only at a single piece of the puzzle at once, like the piece about conserving natural places or the piece about not filling landfills with materials that could be recycled. Consequently, it results in solutions that only address one piece at a time without questioning the larger system.
Environmental justice, on the other hand, attempts to look at all of the pieces and seek out the injustices within the entire system, ultimately questioning the system itself when it results in things like destruction of natural places and filling landfills with recyclable materials. Consequently, it leads to solutions that work to dismantle unjust and immoral systems, recognizing that all injustice is interrelated.
The crisis of climate change is the gravest threat facing our world today, and as people of faith and conscience we are called to respond to the moral imperative to advance climate justice.
We therefore applaud Pope Francis for focusing the world’s attention on the threat of climate change by issuing "Laudato Si," or "Praise Be to You," a papal letter addressed not just to Catholics but to "every person living on this planet."
At the October 2014 meeting of the Unitarian Universalist Association's Board of Trustees, I informed the Board that the UUA administration had recently sold mineral rights in Texas for just shy of one million dollars. This information was included as part of the budget update that I presented at that meeting and was reported on UUWorld.org.
Given the budget shortfall of the previous fiscal year, I considered this sale to be good news for the finances of the Association. But there were others in the UU community who viewed this transaction through a different lens—that of climate change and our moral imperative to address that crisis.