Welcome to Social Action
The Council recognizes four basic facets of social action:
First Parish has always held social action to be one of its most important values. In a recent survey of activity, parishioners reported involvement in nearly sixty organizations, local, regional, and global. Social action programming is coordinated by the Social Responsibility Council which was funded by a vote of the semiannual Parish Meeting held in October, 2001; monies flow to the Council through First Parish’s endowment. The goal of the Council is to act on behalf of the parish to coordinate and fund projects that express Unitarian Universalist values within our community. Starting with the 2018-2019 Church year, the Council accepted the responsibility for determining recipients for half of the first Sunday offering as part of the Sharing the Plate program. Seven members are elected by Annual Meeting on a staggered basis to serve three-year terms.
An important initiative of First Parish’s Social Responsibility Council is a program of grant-making and donations to agencies and organizations that represent our core values.
Share the Plate 2022-2023
Under the Same Moon (December, $542.78) – Under the Same Moon supports a K-grade 9 school in Alotenango, Guatemala that educates approximately 500 students of very limited resources.
The Neighbor Brigade (January, $473.88) – Neighbor Brigade is a network of community-based Brigades of volunteers to assist short term with the unforeseen twists and turns of life. The Bedford Chapter is the recipient of support from the larger Neighbor Brigade organization and has helped many in the community with no other options for assistance at critical times due to illness, job loss,
and other life crises.
Mriya Ukraine Relief (February, $655.50) – Mriya, Inc. is a Boston-based 501 c 3 organization supplying humanitarian aid for the people of Ukraine. Since February 2022, Mriya has raised and shipped more than $50,000 worth of aid to Ukraine.
Planned Parenthood (March, $707.80) – Funds will support the ongoing work of Planned Parenthood nationwide.
Church of the Larger Fellowship (April, $623.78) – The Worthy Now Prison Ministry, a program of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, is working hard to deepen connections with 1,600+ members experiencing incarceration. Staying connected is more difficult for those who do not have enough money for paper, an envelope and a stamp.
Lawyers for Civil Rights (May,$921.66) – Donations will go toward the important work this organization does in representing communities of color and immigrants to fight discrimination and foster equity through creative and courageous legal advocacy, education, and economic
Uru-eu-wau-wau Tribe (June, amount pending at this time) – All of the money donated to the Uru-eu-wau-wau Association goes directly to support the community as they continue to defend the Amazon. Donations provide funds for conservation, additional gear for the monitoring and surveillance team, and material needs for the community.
The Council is also responsible for reviewing grant requests and allocating the funding that First Parish has set aside in the annual budget for Social Responsibility. The Council had many worthwhile requests for grant funding this year, and is pleased to have supported the following programs with financial grants during this Church year.
Grants Supported: (monetary awards are in parentheses)
Jon Sills African American and Latino Tenacity Challenge 2023 ($1000) – The Tenacity
Challenge is an academic scholarship competition for Latino and African-American students held at both Bedford High School and the John Glenn Middle School. The challenge was once again held in person this year!
UU Urban Ministry Believe in Success ($3397.03) – The UU Urban Ministry serves as a bridge between diverse communities, bringing together people from different social and economic backgrounds for mutually transformative experiences. This grant funds the UUUM’s Believe in Success program providing job-readiness skills for survivors of domestic violence.
Dignity in Asylum (DIAS) ($3000) – DIAS is a Concord-based non-profit that provides housing and support to asylum seekers who often have no other sources for help. They also assist with meals, English lessons, and legal consultations.
Black Lives Matter Banner ($102.97) – This grant paid for a new Black Lives Matter banner to replace the previous one which was torn and unusable.
Bedford Parents Diversity Council ($1000.00) – This grant was used toward the speaking fee for oyah J. Farah, a former Bedford High School student who was a Somali refugee and has written a book about his experiences. He spoke at an event in Bedford in May
Sanctuary Boston ($2500.00) – This grant follows on money awarded last year for campus ministry and will be used to support four student leaders to help them start UU groups on their four college campuses. Sanctuary is offering training, resources, ongoing support, and an organizing stipend to support these leaders.
Celebration of Grass Roots Organizing ($1000) – This annual event raises large amounts of money (last year $146,000) for grassroots organizations in the Boston area. The goal is to raise money and awareness of the incredible organizing work happening in the Boston.
Christmas Eve Offerings
Additionally, the Social Responsibility Council is responsible for selecting the recipient of the 8:00pm Christmas Eve service offering and coordinating selection of a recipient for the earlier family service.
Our Christmas Eve offerings this year went to two organizations:
- World Wildlife Fund (selected by First Parish Youth) $720.63.00
- World Central Kitchen (selected by the SRC) $1,150.00