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.
Sharing the Plate Recipients During the 2018-2019 Program Year
Dignity in Asylum (November and December, $930 raised) – Dignity in Asylum (DIAS) provides free, safe transitional housing and community support to people seeking asylum in the Greater Boston area. Dignity in Asylum is currently housing ten guests in four different apartments/rooms in local communities. The monies raised from Sharing the Plate provided urgently need funds to cover monthly rent, food and transportation costs for their guests.
UU Mass Action (January, $420 raised) –UU Mass Action works to build our Massachusetts congregations’ capacity to strategically support social movements. UU Mass Action is working to raise worker wages, end mass incarceration, stop new fossil fuel infrastructure, and support our undocumented neighbors.
Gotta Have Sole Foundation (February, $472 raised) – Gotta Have Sole was started by a boy as his bar mitzvah project. They strive to provide new shoes to homeless kids because they usually have worn-out shoes or hand-me-downs or ill-fitting ones. New shoes help kids fit in better in school, protect feet from injuries and help with self-esteem.
Black Lives Matter (March, $712.50 raised) – Black Lives Matter Boston’s most active local campaigns assist Black women and children with housing emergencies, many fleeing lethal domestic violence situations, such as helping families with direct emergency needs such as rent and utility shut-off notices. Funding also supports work against human rights violations in local prisons by providing bail funds and court and legal costs,
Sanctuary Boston (April, $333.50 raised) – Sanctuary Boston is a community of vibrant worship and real connection, grounded in Unitarian Universalism and open to seekers of all kinds. Sanctuary was formed by young adults looking to combine the progressive theology of UUism, with worship that came alive in music and ritual. Sanctuary Boston caters to the needs of young adults through worship on Wednesday evenings, small group ministry, and other regular programs.
Rebuilding Black Churches (May, $561.50 raised) – to help rebuild three churches in southwest Louisiana affected by fires resulting from racially motivated hate-crimes
United Nations Office Every Child is Our Child (June) – UU youth learned about the UNO Every Child Is Your Child program when attending the UNO Spring Conference, whose theme this year was Gender Equity in Action. The Every Child is Our Child program directly benefits children orphaned by HIV/AIDS in Ghana.
Grants Awarded For 2018-2019 Program Year
Bedford Community Table Dinners ($700) – to provide meals for Thursday Dinners which are open to all (usual attendance is 80- 100 people each time).
Gender Identity Film ($400) – to fund honoraria for both the local filmmaker and principal subject of the gender ID film “Thy Will Be Done”, who appeared at First Parish for a Q&A following a showing of the film in October.
UU Urban Ministry Community Engagement ($2,500) – 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.
Display of Two AIDS Memorial Quilt Panels ($225) – to borrow and return the Quilt panels back to the NAMES Project Foundation in Atlanta, Georgia.
Tenacity Challenge at BHS ($1,000) – to fund a first-place scholarship award for the 8th annual Tenacity Challenge sponsored by Bedford High School, The Greater Boston Students of Color Achievement, Inc. and METCO Directors Association. 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. First Parish was publicly recognized within the high school and middle school for its continued support of this event.
UU-United Nations Office ($500) – to support the mission and general operations of the UU-UNO. The UU-UNO is Unitarian Universalism’s voice at the highest gathering of the world’s nations and provides a concrete mechanism for UU’s to work toward their 6th principle: the goal of world community with peace, liberty, and justice for all.
Holiday Greetings for the Incarcerated ($500) – to provide postage for holiday greetings to more than 900 incarcerated members of the Church of the Larger Fellowship, which is a UU congregation with no geographical boundary.
Volunteering at Mexican Border ($2,000) – to support travel expense of Raquel Bauman and Sylvia Cowan to volunteer at areas near the Mexican border, helping refugees understand their rights, and witness the process. Raquel and Sylvia presented their experiences in an informative and moving lyceum in May at First Parish.
Earth Circles Curriculum ($570) – The Earth Circles curriculum (EC) is been being developed by parishioner Maureen Oates with the goal of helping youth to develop both understanding of and caring for the natural world we share with all living things. The grant funds are to help fund a promotional mailing, describing the curriculum to other New England UU Religious Education departments.
Gun Buy-Back Program ($200) – to support the successful gun buy-back program started by First Parish several years ago and run in coordination with the Bedford Police Department. The intent is to provide an incentive for people to turn in unwanted guns, and therefore make the community safer.
Transgender Inclusion in Congregations ($800) – to support programming planned for fall 2019 to raise awareness within our community concerning issues of gender identity. The grant will provide for the use of videos, a study guide, and in-person consultation from the Transforming Hearts Collective.
UUA Multigenerational Border Trips ($1,000) – for a deposit on a proposed intergenerational BorderLinks trip, which will be an experiential learning trip to the Arizona border with Mexico to better understand issues of immigration. The trip is organized by the UU Service Committee and is planned for spring school vacation in April 2020.