Unleashing courageous leadership and collective power

to realize a just and loving world.

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  • August 11, 2017 9:41 PM | Anonymous

    A Message from the Executive Director

    Dear Ones, 

    MUUSJA has been growing by leaps and bounds over the past several years, and we have reached a new milestone: with support from a generous grant from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, which several of our Minnesota UU congregations have promised to match, we are thrilled to be able to hire a Statewide Organizer to join our staff!  This is the first time that MUUSJA will have both an Executive Director and a staff member whose portfolio focuses explicitly on organizing, and this opportunity will help us expand our capacity to serve Minnesota Unitarian Universalists and our interfaith, justice-oriented partners.  

    After a rigorous interview process that included several extremely qualified candidates, I am thrilled to announce that Pastor Danny Givens, Jr. has accepted our offer to become MUUSJA's half-time Statewide Organizer, starting on August 21.  I have known Pastor Danny personally for several years, as a colleague in both ministry and activism, and I am so very excited to collaborate with him.  Many of you will know Pastor Danny from his public role as an organizer with Black Lives Matter - Minneapolis over the past several years; you have also probably seen him speak and teach in one of our local UU congregations or interfaith gatherings (including as one of the keynote speakers at our 2015 MUUSJA Fundraiser & Celebration!).  He brings a depth of experience in both faith-based leadership and community organizing, and he already has strong relationships with our UU congregations, many of our interfaith partners, and powerful organizers and entities working for justice in Minnesota.  He is warm, thoughtful, inspiring, faithful, strategic, and deeply committed to MUUSJA's mission of building a more just and loving world.  He has devoted his life and his heart to healing the profound brokenness caused by racism and and all other forms of injustice, and he wields his faith and his ministry as tools for building new and visionary ways of embodying collective liberation.  We are blessed that he has enthusiastically agreed to bring his gifts to the service of MUUSJA.

    Pastor Danny's portfolio will include many things, including continuing our online ministries (Convening Calls and Covenant Groups), working with congregations in Greater Minnesota, and representing MUUSJA in several interfaith and secular coalitions for justice.  I am also sure that Pastor Danny will bring a wealth of new ideas and potential projects to the table as he settles into this work.  If you'd like to send Pastor Danny a message of encouragement, congratulations, and welcome, you can send him an email here.

    Read on below to learn a little more about Danny's background.  And, if you are as excited about Pastor Danny's new role with us as I am, please click here to become a monthly sustainer or make a one-time donation to MUUSJA .  This exciting new position is currently part-time and funded by short-term grants, but your gift will help us move toward making this position a permanent one.  Thank you in advance for your generosity!

    In faith and solidarity, 

    Rev. Ashley Horan, Executive Director

    Meet Pastor Danny Givens
    Pastor Danny Givens, Jr. is the Senior Pastor of Above Every Name Ministries, a young cutting edge congregation in the Twin Cities that prides itself in being a “Church for the People.” As an advocate for Racial/Social Justice surrounding the systemic issues facing Black communities and other communities of color, Pastor Danny devotes much of his time and energy to the #BlackLivesMatterMpls movement in the role of Clergy Liaison.

    Pastor Danny is one of the Founding Members of Black Clergy United for Change (BCUC), a collective of black clergy committed to the work of Racial Justice and Social Transformation in urban communities and abroad.

    After receiving his B.A. in Christian Ministry from Bethel University in 2011, Pastor Danny completed a three-year residency as Interfaith Minister at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul in 2016. There, Pastor Danny began to explore and deepen his convictions as an inclusive, aspiring interfaith leader through the co-facilitation of Beloved Conversations, an experiential curriculum that provides a space to re-form/re-fuse the brokenness of racism into new patterns of thought and behavior.

    In addition to the litany of organizing strategies, actions, and non-violent demonstrations Pastor Danny has planned and led as a frontline activist, he has also brought both traditional and non-traditional faith leaders of diverse backgrounds to the table at the intersections of faith, race, and justice. Pastor Danny has provided racial justice consulting for Temple Israel of Minneapolis, Mt. Zion Temple of St. Paul, the Minnesota Rabbinical Association, St. John Neumann Catholic Church of Eagan. He has also created a praxis curriculum for faith leaders looking to deepen justice work from the pulpit and beyond. Starting in 2018, Pastor Danny will be pursuing an M.A. in Leadership Studies with a Concentration in Social Engagement from Meadville Lombard Theological School.

    A native of the Rondo community in St. Paul, Pastor Danny now lives in Minneapolis with his wife, Natasha, and his son, Adonaiah.

  • June 30, 2017 3:40 PM | Anonymous
    MUUSJA is thrilled to introduce our two summer interns, brought to us through a partnership with the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice.  These two wonderful college students are with us from June-August, and will be working particularly on interfaith organizing and solidarity efforts through the summer.  Read more about each of them below!  You can reach them directly to welcome them to Minnesota, or talk about any of their work, by emailing them.

    From Marisa Jurczyk:

    I found my calling for social justice the same way I found much of who I am today: through music.  One of my favorite songs from high school choir, titled “Prayer of the Children,” was particularly influential for me:

    “Can you hear the prayer of the children,
    On bended knee, in the shadow of an unknown room?
    Empty eyes with no more tears to cry
    Turning heavenward toward the light.
    “Crying softly, ‘help me
    To see the morning light of one more day
    But if I should die before I wake

    I pray my soul to take.’”

    As I sang this piece, I found myself thinking about the many young people, near and far, who were experiencing more pain than I could ever imagine from the perspective of my comfortable suburban life.

    I thought of children who go to bed hungry night after night. I thought of children who have no place to call home. I thought of children who witness horrific acts of violence. I thought of children who are stereotyped as dangerous simply because of the color of their skin. I thought of the children to come who will be left with land that has been irreversibly damaged by centuries of carelessness and abuse.

     I’d heard about some of these children from time to time throughout my life; I’d seen them used in TV advertisements for giant non-profits and heard adults mention them to guilt me into finishing my dinner. But never before was I offered a chance to empathize so deeply with them, to share a small piece of their pain, to stand for and with them, to speak on behalf of them.

    I’ve known in my mind from a young age that I wanted to make a career out of working for a better world. But through music — in this song and in others — I felt that simple wish come to life and turn into a desire burning in my heart and throughout my entire body. I realized that singing words as heavy yet as moving as these was not only a privilege; it was a responsibility. I knew that I had a choice in that moment, as I do each day, between simply performing these words and being wholeheartedly transformed by them. I decided to do my best to always choose the latter.

    Moments like these kept me motivated in my work for justice and led me to where I am today. As a student studying social justice, I hope to use what I learn to help build a world that is more loving and just. I look forward to bringing my experience social justice education and community organizing to my work at MUUSJA and am both excited and humbled to learn and grow alongside the Beloved Community.

    From Jessica Simonoff:

    Hello! My name is Jessica, and I’m a MUUSJA intern this summer! I’m nineteen years old. I grew up in Maryland, a little bit outside of Washington, D.C., then went to a boarding high school in rural southern Pennsylvania. Upon graduating, I moved to a suburb in middle Tennessee with my mother, and shortly thereafter, I headed off to college in Portland, Oregon – Reed College, to be exact, where I’m entering my second year. 

    I’ve been passionate about social justice for as long as I can remember – literally. One of my earliest vivid memories is from when I was seven. I was sitting in my backyard playing with rocks with a friend from school when she said that she didn’t have a problem with gay people, she just “thought they should keep it to themselves.” I started a heated debate with her over it, saying that she would never say that about straight people, and if she didn’t have a problem with gay people, why were they any different? (I’m still close with her, and she’s changed her views entirely – lucky for me, since I’m not exactly straight!)

    I first started serious social justice work in high school, when I became heavily involved with my high school’s Rainbow Alliance (what we started calling our LGBT+ student organization after a few students, myself included, decided that “GSA” wasn’t inclusive enough). I mainly focused on LGBT+ justice activism within my school community, as it was very needed there. Before graduating, I successfully worked with the school administration to remove gendered and binarist language from our school’s handbook, to turn the school’s dress code gender neutral for the first time in over 100 years of the school’s history, and to create and maintain gender-neutral restrooms throughout campus.

    Unfortunately, there were few opportunities for me to get involved in social justice work off-campus in high school, as it was in rural southern Pennsylvania. When I moved to Tennessee, I became involved with the Nashville movement for Black lives and with Food Not Bombs (a radical anticapitalist food kitchen that serves everyone), but still wished there were more ways I could help out and get involved. I found that in Portland, where I became involved in many social justice groups both on and off my campus. Off campus, I have assisted at citywide demonstrations against discriminatory housing policies, against forced and unfair labor in prisons, and in support of Black lives and liberation, and I have worked with the IWW to help the workers of local fast food chain Burgerville unionize. On campus, I have been very involved with the queer and feminist student unions, with Reedies Against Racism (a student group that aims to diversify and decolonize our college’s Humanities syllabus), and with 9SAM (a student group that fights for the human rights of prisoners in the USA).

    I look forward to continuing my work with these organizations next year, to joining the new efforts and causes that will undoubtedly arise from our nation’s troubled political climate, and to working with MUUSJA in its fight for social justice. I have much to learn from the organizers of MUUSJA, their methods, and their experiences, and I have no doubt that the lessons I take from Minneapolis to Portland after this summer will help me become a better organizer in the work I will continue to do.

  • April 03, 2017 9:30 PM | Anonymous



    April 3, 2017

    A Message from the Executive Director

    Dear Ones, 

    These have been turbulent times for Unitarian Universalists.  We have been having a widespread conversation about how white supremacy lives in the bones of our faith's structures and institutions, spurred on most recently by a controversy over hiring at the Unitarian Universalist Association.  We have had to grapple with our understanding of sin and evil, as we watched a prominent UU minister arrested last week on charges of possession of child pornography.  More locally, we have also mourned as budget cuts have forced our MidAmerica Region to let one of their beloved staff members go.  

    All of these UU-specific heartbreaks come, of course, in the context of the national, statewide, and local climate of fear and injustice that dominate not just the news, but our spirits in these times.  Beloveds, if your heart is aching, I am with you.

    In moments like this, the thing that keeps me from walking away, giving up, pulling the covers over my head.... is the daily reminder from my community--my colleagues, my family, my neighbors, those of you with whom I am so privileged to work regularly-- that we are engaged in a long-term struggle to build the Beloved Community, both within and beyond our own faith.  We are part of a long line of those who have been able to mourn that which is broken in the world, while also seeing enough of the precious beauty in it right here and now to know that another world is possible.  That we drink from wells dug by our ancestors long ago, and that we are called to do our part in planting the seeds of trees in whose shade we will never sit.  

    In that spirit, beloveds, I invite all of us to hold the brokenness together, at the same time as we strengthen our muscles for prophetic vision and action in service of that world for which we yearn, but that we have never yet seen.  I leave you with these words from Catholic Bishop Ken Untener, from his "Archbishop Romero Prayer: A Step Along the Way:"

    This is what we are about.

    We plant the seeds that one day will grow.

    We water seeds already planted, knowing that they hold future promise.

    We lay foundations that will need further development.

    We provide yeast that produces far beyond our capabilities.

    We cannot do everything, and there is a sense of liberation in realizing that.

    This enables us to do something, and to do it very well.

    It may be incomplete, but it is a beginning, a step along the way, an opportunity for [Grace] to enter and do the rest.

    We may never see the end results, but that is the difference between the master builder and the worker.

    We are workers, not master builders; ministers, not messiahs.

    We are prophets of a future not our own.

    In faith and solidarity, 

    Rev. Ashley Horan, Executive Director

    Save the Date for MUUSJA's Statewide Social Justice Summit!


    Sustaining Faithful Action for Justice & Solidarity

    May 19-20, 2017 -- First Universalist Church of Minneapolis

    How are we--progressive people of faith--called to respond to the urgent needs of this political moment?  Why does it matter that we approach our work as covenantal people, and as members of congregations and a shared religious tradition?  What does solidarity look like with people who are most directly impacted by injustice?  And how do we sustain our spirits, our energy, our communities when there is so much to drain us and fill us with despair?  

    Join MUUSJA, in partnership with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee, for Resistance & Resilience: Sustaining Faithful Action for Justice & Solidarity in a Hurting World!  We will explore these questions and more, with the help of local and national organizers, religious leaders, artists, musicians, and activists.  The program will include moving worship, plenary discussions about the spiritual-political times we are in, collaborative strategizing for action and impact, a wide variety of workshops led by experienced justice leaders, and opportunities to build relationships with one another through reflection and discussion.  Confirmed presenters include Dr. Glen Thomas Rideout, Alex Kapitan, Nora Rasman, Rev. Sean Dennison, Rev. Kelli Clement, Rev. Steve Newcom, Liz Loeb, Arif Mamdani, Rev. Ashley Harness, and Rev. Ashley Horan -- with more presenters being confirmed soon!  

    This event is open to Unitarian Universalists and beyond; in particular, we encourage Social Justice teams from our congregations around the state to consider traveling together to participate in this powerful, connective, capacity building event!  Scholarships will be available for those who need financial assistance.  

    Full schedule and presenter lineup coming soon; registration opens April 10.  Stay tuned for more details!  

    Can you host one of MUUSJA's summer college interns?

    MUUSJA is thrilled to announce that we will be welcoming two college interns this summer, brought to us through a partnership with the Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice. These two phenomenal people will be working half-time with MUUSJA this summer, for approximately 10 weeks from June-August. We are so excited!

    In order to make these internships possible, we are seeking UUs in the Twin Cities area who are willing to offer home hospitality to an intern! We are likely looking for two host families, but if you have a separate apartment or guest house that two interns could share, we'd love to hear about that, too. Each intern needs a private room in a home located near public transportation (our interns won't have cars, and will likely be working largely in Minneapolis). Interns may or may not share meals with your family (it would be wonderful to build a relationship with these young folks and help them get to know our cities, too!), but should have access to a kitchen to cook for themselves as necessary.

    If you or someone in your congregation would be interested in potentially hosting one of these college students who are passionate about building a more just and loving world, please contact MUUSJA Executive Director Rev. Ashley Horan.  Thank you in advance for your generosity!

    Minnesota LGBTQ Lobby Day is April 20!

    Our friends at OutFront MN invite all people to join together for LGBTQ Lobby day on Thursday, April 20, from 9am-4:30pm.  From theirInvitation and Registration Form

    "Show up and show your support for LGBTQ Equity in Minnesota! Let's gather at the Capitol to rally and meet with lawmakers to speak out against efforts in Minnesota to discriminate against LGBTQ Minnesotans and to support access to health care for trans people, a ban on conversion therapy and more. This is our day to demonstrate statewide support for LGBTQ equity! 

    Join hundreds of other LGBTQ people and allies as we fight for our rights and ensure the gains we have made are not stopped away. The day starts out with civic engagement workshops led by some of the fabulous people on the frontlines of our fight. From 9am to 11am engage with leaders in our community on how to best advocate for yourself and others. 11am to noon there should be food trucks for you to grab lunch and then at noon the rally kicks off!  

    Hear some of the leaders in our movement and even a Congressperson speak to how far we have come and where we are headed. Then stick around to speak DIRECTLY to your legislator about the issues important to you!  We are focusing on ending conversion therapy, ensuring there is no discrimination in the workplace or in public spaces for LGBTQ people, protecting our trans youth, and so much more.  If you can't join us for the whole day, that ok. Just make sure you don't miss the rally!"

  • January 16, 2017 8:32 AM | Anonymous



    January 16, 2017

    Support the UU Presence at Standing Rock

    As many of you know, MUUSJA has been lending staff time and our infrastructural/organizing capacity to assist the UU Church & Fellowship of Bismarck/Mandan (UUCFBM) answer the call from the indigenous organizers of the Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock as they continue to protect the water against the Dakota Access Pipeline. We have sent six vehicles full of UU clergy, lay leaders, and non-UU allies to Standing Rock since November; we have been collaborating with Standing on the Side of Love, the UU College of Social Justice, MidAmerica Region, and the UU Service Committee to coordinate the national UU response to the call for solidarity; and we have assisted with fundraising for various projects -- like the “yUUrt,” a semi-permanent interfaith living space built at the invitation of Native leadership and hosted by the UU Church in Bismarck. (Check out the UU World’s coverage of the December 4 Interfaith Day of Prayer at Standing Rock, which nearly 200 Unitarian Universalists from around the country attended, here.)

    We at MUUSJA, along with people across the world, celebrated with the announcement that the Army Corps of Engineers would not allow Energy Transfer Partners (the pipeline’s construction company) to complete construction under Lake Oahe, right next to the Standing Rock Reservation. We also know, however, that many questions still remain, and that the battle over the pipeline is far from over. There has been an abundance of information emerging about what we are being asked to do to continue supporting the Water Protectors, much of it conflicting.

    What we do know for sure, however, is that our friends at UUCFBM are in constant contact with camp leaders and indigenous organizers, and they are continuing to provide direct support through the church to the Water Protectors. Since the camp has been decreased in size, and facing harsh winter conditions, they have invited the Legal Team at camp to take up residence in the interfaith living “yUUrt” until further notice. They continue to make frequent trips to the camps, and be a hub of organizing and infrastructure in support of the Water Protectors from Bismarck/Mandan.

    UUCFBM are a small fellowship of about 60 members, with the only professional UU minister, Rev. Karen Van Fossan, in the state of ND (and she is only paid at a half-time salary). To that end, MUUSJA Executive Director Rev. Ashley Horan, along with Nora Rasman from Standing on the Side of Love and Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen from the UUA, have been working with Rev. Van Fossan, and have come up with a plan to provide a Minister-in-Residence to support the ministry of the congregation for a week at a time. The Ministers-in-Residence will provide pastoral and logistical support, visit the camp, and--in short--practice the spiritual discipline of faithful followership, doing whatever needs to be done while they are there in service of the struggle, whether that be at the camp or at the church.

    We will continue to provide you with updates about the situation at Standing Rock, and we will continue to support a useful, grounded, accountable UU presence there to the best of our abilities. Please consider making a direct donation to the UUs at Standing Rock Fund, which the good staff at MidAmerica Region UUA are managing. Funds will be used to continue funding the yUUrt, as well as the Ministry-in-Residence program through UUCFBM.

    Women's March Events

    Hundreds--maybe thousands--of Unitarian Universalists are planning on traveling to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March the weekend of the Inauguration. Thousands more have committed to showing up and moving in solidarity in their home towns. Minnesota is no different! A bus of more than 50 Twin Cities UUs will be traveling to DC, and many more will be converging on the Minnesota Women’s March. If you are among them, please consider participating in one of the following events to help you ground in the broader context, and connect with our faith and our fellow UUs in this historic moment.

    • To connect with other UUs through the National UU convergence in DC: https://www.facebook.com/events/1617863051849017/

    • To get political and spiritual grounding for the trip, consider signing up for these pre- and post-march webinars, brought to you by Standing on the Side of Love (and inspired by the organizing of Lena K. Gardner and Rev. Ashley Horan here in Minnesota!). A conversation with Caitline Elly Breedlove, SSL Campaign Director; Lena K. Gardner, Black Lives of UU and National Women’s March organizer; and Rev. Ashley Horan, MUUSJA Executive Director.

      Pre-March Webinar Wednesday January 18 8pm ET/5pm PT

      REGISTER: https://tiny.cc/MoreFromMarchPreWebinar

      Post-March Webinar Wednesday February 8 8pm ET/5pm PT

      REGISTER: https://tiny.cc/MoreFromMarchPostWebinar

    • Many UUs from around the state are gathering to participate in the Minnesota March on the same day as the national march. If you would like to meet up with other UUs at the Minnesota March, you can find us in parking lot E at St. Paul College at 10:30am. We'll be holding a big yellow banner saying "We Believe That Black Lives Matter." If someone from your church would like to touch base about the meet-up, they can reach out to Suzann Willhite at s.willhite@yahoo.com. For more information on the march, check out the website: https://www.womensmarchmn.com

    • Need a sign for the march? Join us at First Universalist in the social hall this Thursday, January 19 from 5-7:30pm for sign-making and a potluck dinner. The more, the merrier! Whether you're headed to DC or staying in Minnesota, we'll break bread together and break out the magic markers. All ages welcome. For more information, contact Welcome Jerde at welcomejerde10@gmail.com.

    MUUSJA Convening Call:  
    Nurturing Resiliency in a Hostile World

    January 16, 2017 — 7:00 PM CST free registration

    For many people, this time is a scary and uncertain time. There are many different fears that are surfacing (or re-surfacing), and many people are losing sight of the power, the energy, and the resources that they have within their reach to resist injustices. I am beginning to wonder how we can:

    a) avoid getting stuck in fear, cynicism, hopelessness, and powerlessness

    b) but rather continue to move and work toward collective liberation and justice with the power, the energy, and the resources that we do have.

    In our congregations, what are our theological assets? We believe in the inherent worth and dignity of every person. So, how does that inform the way that we work to liberate ALL people stuck in oppression and cycles of violence and/or poverty (without exception or conditions)?  What are our infrastructural assets? Our human resources? Our networking capacity and our relational assets?  How are we—both individually and collectively—working to resist unjust policies and other injustices more broadly understood? And how are we working to mobilize people to build their collective power and then to leverage that power to create a more just world—locally, nationally, and globally?

    more information and registration

    Disrupting Hate:  

    Tools of Resistance & Liberation

    Sunday, January 22  12:30-4:30pm
    Calvary Lutheran Church  Minneapolis

    As the great writer and liberationist James Baldwin said, “love does not begin and end the way we seem to think it does. Love is a battle, love is a war, love is a growing up.” For many of us, the inauguration of Donald Trump as president of the United States marks a challenge of love. Love for our own spirits, for our communities, for our people, for the places we call home. And if, as Baldwin says, “love is a growing up,” then now is the time for us to build new relationships of resistance, of community safety, and of collective knowing, and of care.

    In the third part of the “Disruption and Discomfort” series, please join an afternoon of practical skills building and connected conversation. The afternoon will cover:

    • Welcome and overview
    • Locating self - where and how do we ground ourselves in the social landscape? In this political moment?
    • Theory and Practice of Disrupting Hate and Harassment
    • Theory and Practice of Intentional Conversations
    • Close

    More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/377926492568379/

    Registration: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/disrupting-hate-tools-of-resistance-and-liberation-tickets-31082057270

    Resistance, Renewal, and the River of Love:
    An Interfaith Prayer Service

    Sunday, January 22 — 5:00-7:00pm
    Calvary Lutheran Church — Minneapolis

    Now more than ever, we need to craft and practice a narrative and practice of resistance and resilience. We do so by being in community, bringing our full selves to the table, and calling on the wisdom and stories of our diverse faith traditions.

    Join us for an evening of reflection, ritual, song, and community to cultivate the sustenance we need to respond powerfully in the year ahead. Worship leaders include Rev. DeWayne Davis, Rev. Laura Smidzik, Rabbi Micahel Latz, Jim Bear Jacobs, Andrea Sorum, Lemoine LaPointe, Rev. Elaine Kirkland.

    More info: https://www.facebook.com/events/1912417555653460/

    Both training and worship service are brought to you by a partnership between MARCH, MUUSJA - Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance, Jewish Community Action, AMAZE, The Center for Sustainable Justice, and Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice and Social Transformation, and Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light.

    30 Days of Love:
    Fortifying the Movement

    January 16 - February 14

    This winter, Standing on the Side of Love will return with 30 Days of Love from Jan. 16 through Feb. 14, 2017! In the face of escalating repression and resistance, we are exploring what it means for Unitarian Universalism to be a nurturing, humble, and steady hand on the side of justice. Each week we will share tools and resources to help congregations reflect, learn, and act around themes of fortification, including: relationships and movements, covenants and movements, transformation and movements, and commitment and sustenance. Make sure you are signed up to receive Standing on the Side of Love's weekly emails during 30 Days of Love. From small group ministry resources to opportunities to honor courageous love within our communities, stay tuned to the Standing on the Side of Love website for more information and resources in coming weeks.

    MUUSJA Co-Sponsoring “A Good Time for the Truth”

    Author Event

    Friday January 27 — 7pm
    First Universalist Church of Minneapolis

    Join MUUSJA and the Racial Justice Leadership Team of First Universalist Church at this forum with Debbie Irving, author of Waking up White. This book event features Minnesota writers from A Good Time for The Truth: Race in Minnesota.  Published in 2016, this powerful collection of essays addresses race and racism as experienced by 16 Minnesotan authors of diverse backgrounds. It is a great way to start to listen to our stories of pain and resilience and begin the discussion about the way these national problems are revealed in our local setting. We will hear from three of the local authors at the event: Taiyon Coleman, Bao Phi and Rodrigo Sanchez-Chavarria.

    more information about the book

    more information about the event

    MUUSJA Co-Sponsoring “Living Resistance UU Tour”

    Sunday January 29
    more details tba

    In Minneapolis organizations and individuals are coming together to organize an event as part of a national tour that will open up conversation about racial justice movements in Palestine and the US, specifically through the lens of youth detention.  The tour is called No Child Behind Bars: Living Resistance from the US to Palestine and is being organized by Friends of Sabeel - North America in partnership with Black Lives of UU, Dream Defenders, UUs for Justice in the Middle East, Jewish Voice for Peace, the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and several other national organizations - to highlight the treatment of Palestinian youth under occupation and build connections to movements against mass and youth incarceration in the US. The speaking tour is meant to educate the American public about the widespread abuse of children through detention and criminalization and state-sponsored violence in Palestine while highlighting the intersectional nature of injustice to children, including detention practices and youth incarceration right here in the United States, which disproportionally impact children and youth of color. Our goal is to spread awareness and to highlight congressional, economic, and educational opportunities for coalitions to mobilizing around a common goal: the full realization of human rights for children.

    In Minneapolis we hope this event will open up a broader conversation about linking racial justice work from the US to Palestine and how it connects to ongoing organizing in the Twin Cities.  The tour will feature Nadya Tannous, Amanda Weatherspoon and Ahed Tamimi by video.

    MUUSJA Needs You!

    Did you know that MUUSJA’s budget has more than doubled over the last three years, from $38,000 in 2014 to our proposed 2017 budget of $85,000? Did you know that almost all of that increase has gone towards our program budget, increasing it from $1,000 in 2014 to $30,000 in 2017 (that’s a 3000% increase!)? Did you know that MUUSJA has only one employee (our half-time Executive Director), as well as a paid ministerial intern, two paid youth interns, and part time bookkeeping and communications contractors? And did you know that in the two years since we’ve begun building our Sustaining Donor program, we’ve built a base of 25 monthly donors, ranging from $10 to $250/mo?

    In short: we’re tiny, we’re scrappy, we’re growing, and we need the financial support of Unitarian Universalists in Minnesota and beyond. For the price of a cheap meal, a tank of gas, or movie ticket, your monthly contribution helps us to rely less heavily on unpredictable one-time contributions and grant funding that changes every year. It will help us increase our staffing, our ability to say “yes” to exciting opportunities for partnership and response, and our capacity to grow even more deeply into our mission, and our role as the public, prophetic, unifying voice of Unitarian Universalism in Minnesota.

    Our goal in 2017 is to increase our monthly Sustaining Donor income by $300-500/mo. That’s just 30 people at $10/mo, 10 at $50/mo, or two at $250/mo! Will you be one of our Justice Angels, and sign up to make your recurring gift today? Thank you for your generosity!


    Copyright © 2017 Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance - all rights reserved

  • November 28, 2016 4:20 PM | Anonymous

    A Message from the Executive Director

    Dear Ones, 

    Many of us watched in horror as we saw live-feed footage of militarized police shooting water cannons, concussion grenades, tear gas, and rubber bullets at the peaceful Water Protectors in below-freezing North Dakota temperatures last week.  In time since the attack, we have learned that more than 300 people were injured, including one young woman whose arm was nearly blown off after a concussion grenade exploded on it.  And, on Friday, the Army Corps of Engineers issued a statement saying that they will be evicting everyone from the camps at Standing Rock sometime after December 5. 

    Meanwhile, the camps at Standing Rock continue to be self-sustaining, peaceful, prayerful, powerful places.  They are led by indigenous leaders fiercely committed to one another and to the sacred earth.  They welcome in visitors from around the globe who continue to travel to show solidarity and support for the #NoDAPL resistance movement.  They continue to spread the word about this struggle for indigenous sovereignty, and against the rampant corporate greed and unquenchable thirst for oil that push the Dakota Access Pipeline forward.

    Let us be clear: the Standing Rock Sioux tribe and the Water Protectors are resisting the same insidious forces of indigenous genocide, colonial hegemony, and land theft that have been in play since the first Europeans arrived on this continent.  The Dakota Access Pipeline was rerouted to the tribe's sacred land when the white citizens of Bismarck would not accept the risks inherent in its construction upstream from their own community.  The militarized police colluding with corporate interests -- and the lack of courageous intervention by elected officials -- is the same story of racism and white supremacy that faces communities of color and indigenous peoples not only throughout United States history, but throughout our nation all the time right now, today. As Unitarian Universalists, we are compelled by our faith now, more than ever, to show up in solidarity however we can in solidarity with those who struggle for justice, and in resistance to the interlocking, oppressive systems that disregard human life, self-determination, and the health of our precious earth.  

    Many of you have reached out to ask how you can be of support to the Water Protectors, and to our Unitarian Universalist kin at the Unitarian Universalist Church & Fellowship of Bismarck/Mandan, who have been on the ground at the Oceti Sakowin camp for months and such consistent supports to the movement there. We are in close touch with Rev. Karen van Fossan, the minister at UUCFBM, and she has passed along several calls to action and recommendations for acts of solidarity from indigenous leaders at Standing Rock. They are listed below, and there should be something every one of us can do, no matter what our resources or capacity.  

    Friends, there is so much work to do, but your faithfulness and your commitment keep me going. Together, we are so powerful.  Thank you for your generosity.

    In faith and solidarity, 

    Rev. Ashley Horan, Executive Director

    TRAVEL to Standing Rock for the December 4 Interfaith Day of Prayer

    The Water Protectors have consistently asked all people of conscience to consider showing up in person to show solidarity with the #NoDAPL movement, and keep the world focused on the struggle there. In particular, Chief Arvol Looking Horse, Spiritual Leader of the Lakota, Dakota, and Nakota nations, has issued a call for all people of faith and conviction to come to Standing Rock for an Interfaith Day of Prayer on December 4, 2017 .  

    MUUSJA will be helping to coordinate caravans of Unitarian Universalists from around the state for the December 4 event. If you are interested in connecting with other UUs planning to attend, please fill out this Google form - you can indicate where you'd like to leave from, and if you need a ride or would like to offer one to others.  Once we determine the interest, we will help ensure that folks connect with each other and can make plans for traveling.  We will also likely be sponsoring a large van that will leave from Minneapolis, with spots available for clergy and/or lay people both from the Twin Cities and around the country.  

    If you are planning, or considering, a trip to Standing Rock, please read the four documents linked here about how to prepare for, be respectfully and helpfully present at, and return from the camps. 

    DONATE MONEY to Support the #NoDAPL Movement and the Water Protectors

    MUUSJA asks that Unitarian Universalists contribute to making it possible to answer the call of indigenous leaders at Standing Rock who have invited Unitarian Universalists to maintain a consistent presence there, AND to directly funding Native-led resistance by the Water Protectors.  

    To that end, we ask that you contribute to the UU Presence at Oceti Sakowin Fund (for the "yUUrt," a semi-permanent structure at Standing Rock that houses visiting UUs and any others who need a place to stay), AND make an equal or greater contribution to the Oceti Sakowin Camp Fund, run and managed by the Water Protectors.  While we do not know exactly when and if a forced eviction will happen, we have been told by our partners on the ground that both of these funds are still going to be operational and are good candidates to which to send financial resources.

    SEND WINTER SUPPLIES to Oceti Sakowin Camp

    Again, while we are not sure if/when a forced eviction of the camps will come, we know that the Water Protectors are planning on maintaining a presence for as long as possible.  They are still in dire need of many winterizing supplies, as detailed on the Oceti Sakowin Camp donation page.  If you have any of these supplies and would like to send them along with UUs who will be traveling to Standing Rock this week, please email MUUSJA Executive Director Rev. Ashley Horan.

    CALL Your Elected Officials and DAPL Executives

    It is imperative that we work together to keep pressure on the people who have the power to halt the pipeline, and to keep the Water Protectors' struggle in the public eye even though the media has been largely ignoring the story.  Click here for a list of suggestions of strategic contacts, and spend a bit of time letting the powers that be know that we are in solidarity with Standing Rock.  

    ORGANIZE a Vigil, Worship Service, or Special Collection in Your Congregation

    We have heard consistent requests from the Water protectors to "remain constantly in prayer" for them and their sacred land.  Many Unitarian Universalist congregations around the country have committed to holding special vigils or services on Sunday, December 4, at the same time as the Interfaith Day of Prayer is happening; they have also committed to taking a special collection at these gatherings and sending that money to Standing Rock.  If there are already vigils or local solidarity events happening in your community, organize a contingent of supporters from your congregation to attend together.  If you organize an event on your own, reach out to other congregations and faith communities to join you.

    Whether it is a congregation-wide event, or a small gathering of supportive people gathering, our prayerful attention and spiritual support for our kin at Oceti Sakowin matters.  

    EDUCATE Yourself & Your Community

    Native and indigenous history has been intentionally and systematically erased from our American history books, and most of us have very little context for and understanding of what is happening at Standing Rock as the latest of a centuries-long story of domination and resistance.  If you are just beginning to learn about Standing Rock and the #NoDAPL struggle, check out the #StandingRockSyllabus: a compendium of readings, articles, photos, and a timeline that help draw the larger picture of this moment into historical context.

    As you seek out other sources of information, especially those , ask yourself: Who is telling the story?  What pieces of their social location influence how they see and tell this story?  Are Native voices present and centered in the narrative, and their perspectives honored as true? 

    MUUSJA - The Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance
    900 Mount Curve Avenue
    Minneapolis, MN 55403

  • November 22, 2016 1:47 PM | Anonymous

    G2tMD Thanksgiving

    Dearest Friends, 

    In this season of thanksgiving, we the staff and board of MUUSJA are filled with gratitude that not only did you respond to our financial requests for Give To The Max Day 2016, but you handsomely exceeded our expectations.  We happily announce that donations totaled over over $2,800, which comfortably surpassed our intended goal of $2,000.  Combined with our generous anonymous matching donation of $2,000, this brings our G2tMD grand total to:

    ~ $4,800 ~ 

    We cannot thank you enough!!!

    Additionally, we signed on 7 new monthly sustaining donors, which is nearly half or our goal for 15 new ones by the end of the year, so we are well on our way!

    Again, endless thanks for your generosity.  In times like these, we know that there are many organizations to which you can--and SHOULD--donate your time and money, and we are grateful for your commitment to helping MUUSJA be an integral part of the ecosystem for building a just and loving world, and amplifying our Unitarian Universalist values in the world.  We are honored that you are together with us on this journey.

    If you did not have a chance to contribute to the G2tMD campaign, we welcome any size donation at any time on our website.  

    Are you able to be one of the 8 new sustaining donors that will help us reach our goal of 15 by year end? This is the single most effective way you can contribute to our financial stability, guaranteeing that we have the financial resources we need to hire the staff and create the programming necessary to live into our bold vision.  Thank you so much for considering it!

    Yours always in faith and solidarity, 

    Rev. Ashley Horan, Executive Director

  • November 17, 2016 3:53 PM | Anonymous
    The Faces of UU Justice

    MUUSJA friends ~

    MUUSJA is making a difference.  Minnesotan Unitarian Universalists are doing powerful work for justice within and beyond congregational walls.  This September, we presented the 2016 Justice Awards at State of the UUnion -- our annual celebration and fundraiser.  Through this ritual of honoring, we recognized several amazing individuals and groups who are on the frontlines, living out our UU values throughout Minnesota. 

    Your donation to MUUSJA helps us support justice warriors like these, and bring Minnesota UUs together to learn from each other and to build deep networks of shared solidarity and learning. 

    Lay Leader
    Sandy MacLaughlin and Sandy Ramage

    Discerning a basic human need, Sandy and Sandy opened a mini free store program aiding over 5,000 students in Rochester which largely serves immigrants and refugees. Their service enhances the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program by providing daily living essentials, such as toiletries, cleaning products and paper goods. Both Sandy's enlisted their churches, businesses, and community service groups to donate goods and to raise funds. For the students who are often subjected to anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim rhetoric, love is the biggest gift this store brings to its shoppers.


    Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship

    Our society's origin stories glorify European and European-American conquests, while explicitly or implicitly justifying the murder of Native peoples, devaluing their lives an cultures. The Northwoods Unitarian Universalist Fellowship seeks to challenge those stories and to tell the truth about the discrimination in our past and in the present day. They have raised awareness through disseminating the "Doctrine of Discovery" audio programs for radio and CD, touring Native American storytellers, and furnishing books to libraries, schools, and churches on the "Traveling Truth Telling Tour". They also launched the "Goodbye Columbus" campaign to rename Columbus Day with Indigenous People's Day in Minnesota, meeting with state legislators, working with racial justice organizations, and drafting a resolution that has been passed in several Minnesotan counties.

    Youth Group
    Tower Club

    The Tower Club youth at Unity Church-Unitarian in St. Paul have connected racial justice to their Beloved Conversations where 35 to 40 youth regularly attend; journeyed on a pilgrimage to Selma; participated extensively, consistently, and fearlessly in the 4th Precinct Occupation in Minneapolis; served as interns with MUUSJA’s YoUUth SOALS program; and given prophetic voice and leadership to racial justice at Youth Cons. MUUSJA does not only look to these young people as leaders of the future but to the leaders they are today.

    MUUSJA wholeheartedly congratulates these Justice Award winners and esteems all they have done to better society.  We hope their work inspires you to give and support our common work for justice.

    Please note -- the GiveMN website is overloaded with G2tMD traffic, so if you're experiencing problems there, we are happy receive your donation through our website. And it will count towards our G2tMD total :)

    Please consider covering GiveMN's 6.9% fees. Otherwise, you can always donate here on our website, or send us a check, c/o MUUSJA, 900 Mt. Curve Ave, Minneapolis, MN 55403.

  • November 16, 2016 11:01 AM | Anonymous


    As you know, tomorrow is Give to the Max Day!  In this critical moment, as Unitarian Universalists nurture our resiliency and deepen our courage and prepare ourselves to show up more boldly and bravely for justice than we ever have before, MUUSJA needs your dollars to help us live into our mission of equipping Minnesota UUs to unleash courageous leadership and collective power to build a just and loving world

    What will your contribution make possible?  Here are just a smattering of the things you’re funding when you become a sustaining donor or make a one-time contribution to MUUSJA:

    • UU Solidarity with Standing Rock: MUUSJA has made it possible for more than 30 people—including 17 clergy—from around the country to be present as spiritual reinforcements and physical presences with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock.  We are planning more trips in the coming months, and are in close contact with the UU Fellowship & Church of Bismarck/Mandan, Standing on the Side of Love, the UU College of Social Justice, and the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee about how to maintain a continual UU presence at Standing Rock over the coming months, and how to channel resources and support to those on the ground.
    • Being the UU voice in bold interfaith organizing: As an anchor member of MARCH (Multifaith Anti-Racism, Change, & Healing), MUUSJA works closely with faith leaders of many traditions to deepen our interfaith relationships and mobilize a strong, progressive voice for justice and equity in Minnesota, including a Rapid Response network that regularly turns out people of faith for public witness and direct action.  This year, MUUSJA is one of the key planners and facilitators of the pilot launch of Sacred Solidarity Congregations program, a cohort of 12 predominantly white Twin Cities congregations that are journeying together to build skills and strategies for becoming deeply committed partners in the struggle for racial justice.
    • Ongoing solidarity with the Movement for Black Lives. Whether it be amplifying the calls to action from our partners at Black Lives Matter - Minneapolis and other groups, turning out UUs for public witness and direct action, lending our infrastructure and institutional support to Black-led organizing, or collaborating with interfaith partners to educate and mobilize white communities in solidarity (see this summer’s “Discomfort & Disruption” panel series in the wake of Philander Castile’s murder), MUUSJA is committed to deepening and sustaining our commitment to racial justice in Minnesota and beyond. 
    • Mentoring the next generation of UU justice leaders. Did you know MUUSJA has had four paid youth interns, three ministerial interns, and two communications interns over the past two years?  These gifted people bring capacity to our organization while simultaneously growing their leadership skills and deepening their faith.  They will carry the formation they experience at MUUSJA with them into lifelong service to Unitarian Universalism and our world. 
    • In-person relationship building for Minnesota UUs: We are planning several cluster gatherings for congregations in greater Minnesota, as well as a Statewide Social Justice Summit (in partnership with the UU Service Committee) for 2017.  This is in addition to our annual celebration and fundraiser, and several one-time workshops, forums, and events that allow Minnesota UUs to connect across congregational boundaries!
    • Spiritual sustenance for justice leaders: We know that our leaders need deep relationships and spiritual support to continue faithful organizing for justice within and beyond their congregations.  Through our online Covenant Groups, monthly Convening Calls, and individual and congregational consultation with MUUSJA staff, we offer consistent spiritual care and deepening to those who lead our congregations into greater solidarity and action with movements for justice. 
    • Investing in the spiritual-political development of UU youth.  MUUSJA’s groundbreaking YoUUth SOALS program is now in its third year, and it is bringing UU high school students from a range of congregations together to prepare them to be life long Unitarian Universalist activists and organizers for justice.  YoUth SOALS offers two paid internships to high school youth, and plays a key role in creating the annual Twin Cities Youth Con.
    • Agile and effective Rapid Response.  We never know when the next call for support, witness, or action will come.  Because of your generosity, though, MUUSJA is able to leverage our wide reach and our relationships with UUs to quickly respond to calls for mobilization and solidarity.  We don’t know when the Fourth Precinct occupation or Ferguson response or Standing Rock all-call will come, or what it will look like… but your donation lets us know that we will be able to throw down accountably and effectively whenever that call comes.  

    Friends, we need YOUR help to make sure we can do these things—and so many more—this year. You can set up your recurring donation or your your one time contribution through our Give to the Max page (although please consider helping us cover the exorbitant 6.9% service fee they charge us!), or by going through our own website.  And, of course, you can always send us a check c/o MUUSJA, 900 Mt. Curve Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403!  We have a $2000 match from an anonymous donor, and everything you give through G2tMD or our website will count toward that total. 

    We are grateful for your spirits, your solidarity, and your support.

    In Faith and Solidarity, 

  • November 16, 2016 10:37 AM | Anonymous

    "Difficult and Holy Work"

    For the second year in a row, I have been serving as a ministerial intern with Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance (MUUSJA). It has been a unique pleasure and privilege to be walking side by side with the youth and adults that comprise the UU congregations of Minnesota, as we explore ways to dive deeper into social justice work that is revolutionary, intersectional, and effectual. 

    One component of my internship has been to work with the youth of the Twin Cities congregations through YoUUth SOALS, training them to be Unitarian Universalist organizers and activists. We got together for monthly sessions, where we asked big questions about injustices of our world, how to put our faith and values into action, and how to take care of ourselves while we were working and fighting for justice. This leadership seminar also became very real and meaningful for me in the wake of the shooting of #JamarClark, exactly one year ago this week. As the youth were processing the tragedy of this local injustice, they were looking for ways to agitate, to challenge broken systems, and to put their feet on the ground, standing and walking and sitting and protesting for justice. MUUSJA's youth program, along with the support from their congregational leaders and RE professionals, provided them the necessary training ahead of time, in-the-moment support, and after-the-fact place for reflection that prepared their hearts, their minds, and their spirits to do the very real and very hard work of advocating for and demanding justice.

    In this year's internship, I am working with many of Minnesota's congregational social justice leaders, deepening a sense of spiritual resiliency, connecting them to the work of MUUSJA, and creating strong networks of leaders who can share struggles and successes and thereby energize and sharpen their work. Mobilizing Unitarian Universalists to sustainable and impactful justice work is difficult and holy work, requiring a knowledge of congregational systems, family systems theory, collective liberation theology, grassroots power-building and organizing skills, and a deep understanding of UU identity (“Who we are”) and UU self-identity (“How we see ourselves”). I have been fascinated by the (dis)integration of justice work and spirituality. Justice work without spirituality feels draining and unsustainable, and spirituality without justice work feels cheap and comfortable. I value the dualism of affliction and comfort that MUUSJA upholds and encourages; it is an integrated tension that energizes and stabilizes social justice work. 

    So far this year, we have made great in-roads with connecting our state's congregations to the work of MUUSJA. After convening an online gathering where we discussed the Dakota Access Pipeline, a large contingency of Unitarian Universalist clergy and laity traveled to Standing Rock to show solidarity. This movement has now gained momentum and is morphing into a Standing Rock Task Force, which will keep in consistent communication with the UU Church & Fellowship of Bismarck-Mandan and continue to offer solidarity, support, and resources as needed. 

    These are the concrete examples of the powerful work that MUUSJA does, and it has been such a valuable and educational experience for me to work, move, and push along with other Unitarian Universalists toward justice.

    This Give to the Max Day, please give generously to MUUSJA to ensure that we can keep doing the kind of impactful, prophetic ministry that we are called to do."

    To make your donation to MUUSJA this Give to the Max Day, click here to give through our website, or here to give through the G2tMD official site (although please consider helping us cover their 6.9% service fee when you set up your donation there!).

    Jack Gaede is a candidate for the Unitarian Universalist Ministry, a student at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities, and this year's MUUSJA Intern for Justice & Religious Leadership. You can reach him at muusjaintern@gmail.com.

  • November 14, 2016 10:56 PM | Anonymous

    We were made for such a time as this.

    Dear Ones,

    There are so many questions swirling in the air right now, along with much pain and anger and fear.  What will the next four years hold for our communities, especially people of color, immigrants, queer and trans folks, disabled people, women?  How are we to minister to grief and outrage and division without being overcome by cynicism?  What can we do—individually and collectively—to nurture resiliency and effectiveness within ourselves and our congregations so that we are equipped to show up, over and over again, as warriors for justice over the long haul?UUs answer the call to show up in solidarity with the Water Protectors at Standing Rock #NoDAPL

    There aren’t any easy answers.  But these are the undeniable questions of our time, the ones our Unitarian Universalist faith demands we grapple with now, and into the future.  

    What I know is this:

    Our Unitarian Universalist values and communities have more potential to be relevant, powerful hubs for justice than they have ever been. But it is up to us to decide whether we will live into the promise of our faith, and act boldly to bring our values and our bodies into the public square on the right side of history.  

    MUUSJA is deeply committed to our mission of unleashing courageous leadership and collective power to build a just and loving world.  As your statewide advocacy network, we work everyday to nurture spirits, build skills, and strengthen relationships among Unitarian Universalist individuals and congregations, and with broader movements for justice and liberation.  Our work is directly contributing to fortifying the ecosphere of resilience and resistance that is so desperately needed to combat oppression, and—more importantly—to live into a new vision of justice and equity that our souls yearn for, although our eyes have not yet seen.  

    In order to do that work, we need your support. 

    This Thursday is Give to the Max Day here in Minnesota, and we are counting on your bold and generous support. Here’s how you can help:

    1.) Become a Sustaining Donor.  Whether you can give $10 a month or $1000, becoming a Sustaining Donor is the single most effective way you can contribute to our financial stability, and guarantee that we have the financial resources we need to hire the staff and create the programming that we need to live into our bold vision.  This year, we have a goal of signing on 15 new sustaining donors before the end of 2016.

    2.) Make a one-time contribution that reflects your aspirations for Unitarian Universalist justice work in the world.  Do you want to see stronger collaborations for justice among our congregations?  Have more Unitarian Universalists trained in direct action and witnessing for justice in the public square? Increase our UU congregations’ skills for effective, accountable partnerships beyond their walls? Deepen our theological grounding and amplify our public voice?  Then make a donation to our work that feels aspirational, bold, and generous.  Our goal is to raise $2000 in individual contributions this week—and when you give, your gift will be matched by a generous anonymous donor!

    A quick note: while we do have an official Give to the Max Day page, they take a whopping 6.9% of your donation in fees!  If you choose to make your gift there, please consider paying those fees on our behalf.  Otherwise, you can always donate through our own website here, or send us a check, c/o MUUSJA, 900 Mt. Curve Ave., Minneapolis, MN 55403!

    We need your financial support this week, just as we will need your hearts and your spirits and your bodies in the coming weeks, months, and years.  Please, help us live faithfully into the commitments our faith compels us to make.

    We are grateful for your generosity.

    In Faith and Solidarity, 

    Rev. Ashley Horan

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