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 2019-2020 Program Year
United Nations Office Every Child is Our Child (October, $403 raised) – 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.
Sanctuary Boston (November, $586 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 comes 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.
Days for Girls (December, $292 raised) – Days for Girls is an international organization that provides quality menstrual care solutions, health education, and income-generating opportunities that give back days of opportunity and health to girls around the globe.
First Parish Benevolence Fund (January, $649.50 raised) – The Benevolence Fund is set aside to help Parishioners and friends who are in need of financial support for any reason. Disbursements from the fund are at the discretion of the ministers, and the recipients identities are kept confidential.
Dignity in Asylum (February, $768.25 raised) – Dignity in Asylum (DIAS) provides free, safe transitional housing and community support to people seeking asylum in the Greater Boston area. DIAS 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.
Domestic Violence Services Network (March, $470 Raised) – Domestic Violence Services Network (DVSN) supports survivors of domestic violence. The funds raised by FPB will be used specifically to provide books and activities for victims in waiting rooms, supplies and materials for a “Lawyer for a Day” program to provide advice and representation to survivors seeking restraining orders, and printing costs for materials.
Fore River Residents Against Compressor Station (June) – Fore River Residents Against Compressor Station (FRRACS) is a community-based group that is actively fighting the proposal to construct a fracked-gas compressor station on the South Shore.
Grants Awarded For 2019-2020 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).
UU Urban Ministry Believe in Success ($3,500) – 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.
CB Beal: Pre-Emptive Radical Inclusion ($2,000) – to support two workshops and a Sunday morning service at First Parish on the subject of inclusion, particularly for trans and non-binary gender persons.
Tenacity Challenge at BHS ($1,000) – to fund a first-place scholarship award for the 9th 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. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, this year’s Tenacity Challenge was postponed.
Jim Antal Honorarium ($500)- Jim Antal is the author of the book Climate Church Climate World, the First Parish in Bedford’s all-church book read for 2019-2020. Jim preached at First Parish on January 26, 2020.
Communities for Restorative Justice ($500) – to support programs that help people who have done harm become accountable for their actions and help people who have been harmed to find healing and resolution.
Chelsea Collaborative ($500) – The Chelsea Collaborative is bringing food to families, supporting residents facing evictions, and disseminating critical information about the COVID-19 pandemic to residents of Chelsea. As of the time of this writing, the City of Chelsea has the highest incidence rate of COVID-19 cases in all of Massachusetts.
International Institute of New England ($1,500) – to fund support for case management for immigrants and refugees. IINE’s mission is to create opportunities for refugees and immigrants to succeed through resettlement, education, career advancement, and pathways to citizenship.
Lowell Transitional Living Center ($2,000) – to provide services to homeless adults, particularly food as food donations have declined during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Benevolence Fund ($230.42) – to provide assistance to Parishioners and friends who are in need of financial support for any reason. Disbursements from the fund are at the discretion of the ministers, and the recipients identities are kept confidential.