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A Message From the Executive Director - Jan 16, 2017

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!


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