Racial Justice

Every person has value as a member of the human family. The suffering caused by racism must be ended if we want to create fair and loving communities.

First Unitarian is working to end racial discrimination and injustice, starting within ourselves and moving out into the world around us. We support stopping racist policies like mass imprisonment and attacks on voting rights. Our efforts will continue until there is peace, liberty, and justice for all.

     Black Lives Matter

The First Unitarian congregation voted last year to affirm that black lives matter and pledged to pursue racial justice in our communities, in our state, and in our nation. We hung a banner on our property proclaiming, “This Unitarian Universalist Church Affirms that Black Lives Matter!”

We are committed to taking action to dismantle racism and white supremacy in our communities and to promoting justice.

     Standing with Love

Standing with Love (formerly Standing on the Side of Love) is a denomination-wide social justice advocacy and public witness campaign. This group plans opportunities for education, advocacy, and action that our congregation can pursue individually and collectively — including attending rallies and vigils, workshops, book clubs and film screenings, and letter writing campaigns.

At First Unitarian, Standing with Love:

  • focuses on supporting the movement for black lives.
  • commits to harnessing the power of love to take action to dismantle racism and white supremacy in our communities.
  • promotes racial justice.
  • creates a network of support and communication for taking united action against hate crimes and identity-based oppression and violence.

Contact: TIffany Reed

Immigrant Justice

First Unitarian stands on the side of love with all families, regardless of citizenship status, and strives to create a welcoming community for all. We advocate for immigration reform, for an end to detentions and deportations, and for a world where no one feels forced to leave home or risk death in pursuit of a decent life for their family.

     Sanctuary Church

Our congregation recently voted to become a Sanctuary Church. It was a long and carefully considered process to decide to become involved in the Sanctuary Church movement.

At some point, we may house in our building an immigrant who is in danger of deportation. There is also the possibility we will be supporting another church holding someone in sanctuary. While there is still much work to be done in preparation for housing someone in our space, we will rise to this task. We will work together with neighbors in other faith communities to help make a difference in the lives of immigrants in our state.

Meanwhile, we will begin working on an initiative with the ACLU which asks each of the 39 cities and towns in Rhode Island to introduce legislation to become supporters of sanctuary. We will continue to show up and speak out for immigrants at the State House and support the passage of the Community Safety Act in Providence. There is much work to be done, but together there is much we can accomplish.

Legislative Ministry

First Unitarian is a member of the UU Legislative Ministry-RI, the state-wide organization involved in social and economic justice causes in the RI General Assembly and the US Congress. It is one of ten UU Legislative Ministries that serves as a visible force in the “public square,” as guided by our UU principles.

UULM-RI is an advocate for justice and peace. Activities include letter writing campaigns, participating in marches, meeting with local legislators, and lobbying at the Rhode Island General Assembly.

Advocacy work with the Rhode Island General Assembly includes the following issues:

  • housing and homelessness
  • guns and violence
  • sustainable communities
  • restoring Ethics Commission jurisdiction over legislators

There is much to do. We invite you to join us and devote a few hours to advocating for social and economic justice.

Contact: Derek Smith

     Gun Violence

First Unitarian is a member of the Religious Coalition for a Violence-Free Rhode Island. This major legislative-focused social justice coalition is committed to changing the conversation about gun violence in Rhode Island and facilitating the removing guns from households with a record of domestic violence. The leadership group of the coalition includes Rev. Gene Dyszlewski, one of our community ministers.

The coalition recently advocated for two legislative issues: the domestic violence gun bill and the Criminal Justice Reinvestment Program. The domestic violence bill impacts all Rhode Island communities. The Criminal Justice Reform Program disproportionately impacts the way policing is conducted and sentencing is applied in minority communities.

First Unitarian hosted a Memorial Vigil on the anniversary of the Sandy Hook shootings last winter, the second memorial service held at First Unitarian.  During the service, a memorial quilt made from clothing of RI gun victims was presented and displayed.

Human Rights

     Unitarian Universalist Service Committee

The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee advances human rights through grassroots collaboration. In more than a dozen countries throughout the world, UUSC fosters social justice and works toward a world free from oppression.

First Unitarian supports the UUSC and participates in its programs including the annual Guest At Your Table project and the College of Social Justice. Guest at Your Table supports human rights work around the world. This year’s program theme is Small Change is Big Change. Guests include a leader of local efforts to respond to climate change in the South Pacific and a Burmese human rights activist. The UUSC’s College of Social Justice offers experiential learning to inspire and sustain social justice engagement. They organize service learning trips for youth.

Climate Justice

Creating a sustainable way of life is central to our view of a just and compassionate world. We invite all who share these values to join us on this journey of connection, sustainability, and hope. Get involved in our broad and growing movement for climate justice.