First Unitarian Church of Providence
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social justice ministry

Making the invisible visible is the work of social justice within Unitarian Universalist congregations. We have a deep intuition of radical interdependence, which we’ve articulated in the seventh of our contemporary UU statement of principles and purposes, a call to engage this interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part.

At the same time we acknowledge how each of us sees only a part of the picture, like that old story the Buddha told of the five blind men and the elephant.

People of Faith,
Standing on the Side of Love

For full size & more info, visit our video page.
So, while we feel there is an urgency to engage the hurt of the world, we are also mindful of our limitations and attempt to engage the great issues with humility as well as energy. We have been engaged in a number of areas of concern, including homelessness, affordable housing, racial justice, marriage equality and immigration rights.

Following is a list of some of the wide range of projects in which we are currently active.

Green Sanctuary
Green Sanctuary focuses on deepening our environmental consciousness and extending green strategies to the congregation and community. This group explores our personal relationship to the environment, and provides education and ideas for action. Members and friends are encouraged to join in envisioning a flourishing planet and choosing to restore and heal our magnificent home. This is a member group of the UU Ministry for Earth.

Denominational and Interfaith Connections
Denominational and Interfaith Connections seeks to assist and inspire the members and friends of First Unitarian to grow in spiritual and institutional health by supporting and participating in Ballou-Channing District and Unitarian Universalist Association activities, including UUA General Assembly and interfaith groups such as the RI State Council of Churches.

Community and Food Share Pantry
The church-based Community Food Share (CFS) Pantry collects and stores food and household products for free distribution to low-income and needy people in the greater Providence community. Distribution is on the third Monday of every month in the Parish House Atrium. The CFS Committee recruits a large team of volunteers that procures, prepares and presents the food and manages the distribution each month. Participants in the church school also assist the program.The number of people who depend on our pantry is increasing due to the weakening economy. Volunteering for the Food Pantry can be a rewarding experience. We need help setting up, serving as “personal shoppers,” helping clients select food items, and cleaning up. We particularly need people who can help in the late afternoon.

World Affairs Committee
The World Affairs Committee serves to bring together congregants who want to learn about and provide assistance for humanitarian crises and concerns throughout the world. Programs typically focus on education and fund raising. The Committee has sponsored programs on the war in Iraq, the effects of the tsunami in the Pacific, the status of women in India, Native Americans, and similar topics. Annually, they sponsor a letter-writing campaign to secure the release of prisoners held for political reasons, in conjunction with Amnesty International.

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC), a human rights organization, is an independent UU institution supported by individual members across the nation and world and by a generous matching grant from the Veatch Program of the Shelter Rock congregation. Guest at Your Table boxes also support UUSC programs. Programs are both international and domestic, with experiential opportunities through work camps and activism.

The Girl Effect – Task Force
The Girl Effect is a new group at our church that will concentrate on raising funds to contribute directly to girls’ education. We will work with The Girl Effect,, a non-profit group founded on the principle that, "Girls are the most powerful force for change on the planet." When given a chance, women and girls can lift themselves out of poverty, and their villages along with them, thus multiplying the impact. This new group has developed from the Village Bank Task Force and has many of the same goals. Our main fundraising event will be the holiday sale in December (selling handicrafts from less developed countries, thereby benefiting the workers as well.)

The Transylvania Partnership Committee
The Transylvania Partnership Committee works to support First Unitarian’s ties with Transylvanian Unitarians by becoming a partner to the Unitarian Church in Szentegyhaza. After several years of preparation, a visit by a group of Providence congregants to Szentegyhaza and a reciprocal visit by the minister, the Rev. Szabolcs Kelemen, and board chair, Mr. Sandor Racz, from Szentegyhaza to us, the goal of partnership was accomplished. A motion to become a partner church was brought to congregational vote this spring and was unanimously accepted.

In the upcoming church year, the Committee will sponsor several educational events, designed to inform the congregation about our Unitarian roots and upcoming joint projects between the two congregations. A new trip is planned to Szentegyhaza in the summer of 2009 and we hope to recruit new members. One of the potential events that we are very excited about is a youth exchange between Providence and Szentegyhaza.

Welcoming Congregations Committee
Recently formed, the Welcoming Congregations Committee works to formally join our congregation to our denominational project of being officially welcoming to Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered folk. Through this committee we are also focused on Marriage Equality issues in Rhode Island.

The Wholly Rollers
The Wholly Rollers are Providence area UUs and their friends of all ages who work together to raise funds for the Rhode Island Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. Wholly Rollers train by riding together from April to June. Some ride the one-day 25-mile MS Quick Ride in April; others ride the two-day, 150-mile MS Bike Tour in June. We raise funds to support scientific research to find a cure for multiple sclerosis and provide services in Rhode Island for those with MS. Wholly Rollers set personal goals for funding raising and training. Some don't ride but donate funds on behalf of the team and provide all around encouragement. It's FUN, a challenge, fellowship and a great opportunity to serve others! To learn more visit our website.

Habitat Work Group
Third Saturdays monthly
"Habitat for Humanity International is a nonprofit, ecumenical Christian housing ministry. HFHI seeks to eliminate poverty housing and homelessness from the world, and to make decent shelter a matter of conscience and action. Habitat invites people of all backgrounds, races and religions to build houses together in partnership with families in need. Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses around the world, providing more than 1,000,000 people in more than 3,000 communities with safe, decent, affordable shelter. HFHI was founded in 1976 by Millard Fuller along with his wife Linda." (from the main habitat website)

The First Unitarian Church Habitat Work Group has been working for the past two years with the Providence chapter (Habitat for Humanity of RI — Greater Providence, Inc.). The Providence chapter usually has several houses under construction. Volunteers of all skill levels are welcome — the only requirement is a willingness and ability to do physical work, and minimum age of 16.

The Peace Flags Project
The Peace Flag Project (PFP) is based on the ancient tradition of Tibetan prayer flags, which send out hopes for peace, compassion and kindness. We provide the opportunity for people to create flags that connect to their deepest hopes and dreams for themselves and the world. We believe the flags work in many ways: creating them is an individual experience, which allows each person to evoke something important — some wish or hope or prayer; hanging the flags keeps that inspiration before us and shares it with everyone who sees them. Together these flags reflect our collective yearning for a just, kind, and loving world. Fluttering in everyday places, they connect us with the best in ourselves and in each other. If peace is our gift to one another, and we believe it is, these flags are one way to share that gift.

Join us in sharing the PFP with our greater community by volunteering in schools and for other events, or sew peace with us on our sewing nights here at church.

See the website events calendar, the church newsletter and the Meeting House Times for schedule and details.