Statement supporting student activism on Gaza

The UU College of Social Justice, in collaboration with Side with Love and the Youth and Emerging Adult team of the Lifespan Faith Engagement office joins in solidarity with Unitarian Universalist young adults and students across the globe who are protesting the ongoing assault in Gaza. These protests are a response to the moral urgency of this moment. The assault on Gaza, sponsored by the United States, has killed more than 32,000 Palestinians. We cannot turn away.We join the chorus of faith and progressive organizations calling for an immediate and lasting ceasefire and the protection of student activists.

In the face of dehumanization, devastation, and death, human beings have always gathered to create life-affirming communities of resistance. Rooted in a strong lineage of student movements, this generation – like those protesting the Vietnam War, calling for the racial integration of their campuses, and for the end of apartheid in South Africa – are, again, asking this nation to embody its highest ideals of liberty and justice for all.

Our values call on every generation to listen with care and compassion to the prophetic witness of these courageous students and offer faithful solidarity. We, too, must rise to meet the highest aspirations of our faith, which rejects the disposability of any human being and proclaims all are worthy of love and belonging.

This generation of students has endured the trauma of COVID-19, school shootings, a climate crisis, and the brutality of U.S. police forces on their campuses and in their communities. It is time to turn around the question, “Where are the young people in our faith movement?” and instead ask, “Where are all of us, as people of faith, when our young people are showing up?” We must not turn away.

Side With Love proclaims the transformative power of love to build vibrant and liberated communities. This dangerous assault on civil liberties on college campuses and human rights – at home and globally –are connected. Too many of our justice movements (labor movement, Civil Rights, Gay liberation), have been met with sanctioned police brutality, imprisonment, and worse. We must not fail our students with our silence. We will not betray our faith with our complicity.

We call on university administrations and public officials to remove police from campuses, end the militarized response to student activism, and come to the table in good-faith negotiations with student demands. We call on our community to show up in solidarity. We welcome all, in this pivotal movement, to Side With Love.

Add your signature to this letter.

Message from UUCSJ Director

It is a joy and a gift to join the College of Social Justice (CSJ) team as Director of Justice Education for the UUSC! I want to honor the commitment of the CSJ beloveds who have tended to the web of relationships – inspiring, equipping, and sustaining spiritually grounded activism – through a long pandemic season, most of it without a Director on the team. Thank you, dear ones!

Because the interdepent web of all existence is so much more than a metaphor, I celebrate that all of us are already connected – and we may already have shared life experiences together (especially if you are a part of the Unitarian Universalist world). I am affiliated with the Church of the Larger Fellowship Unitarian Universalist as a community Minister of Love and Liberation and the founder of Ever Unfolding LLC, a ministry of spiritual accompaniment and creativity for people, congregations, and organizations on the journey toward collective liberation. Perhaps we have met during a season of relief or conflict in the life of congregations. Perhaps we have connected virtually. In Fall of 2020, I was invited to join the design team at the Fahs Collaborative to reimagine Beloved Conversations as a virtual experience. I have served as a facilitator for the Un/Learning for Liberation Within cohort and as a congregational coach for the Among Beloved Conversations Virtual program.

I may have met you in New Orleans, Louisiana where I served as Co-Director of the Center for Ethical Living and Social Justice Renewal (CELSJR) for many years and as a community minister for the Greater New Orleans Unitarian Universalist Cluster (GNOUU). New Orleans has deeply shaped my formation as a human and a UU minister, including an Undoing Racism™ analysis rooted in the work of the People’s Institute for Survival and Beyond, an Experiential Education and Leadership practicum with Tulane University’s Center for Public Service, and Spiritual Leadership Coaching  certification with Peace Ministry  and the Rev. Dr. Denise Graves.

From the land of the Coast Salish people, an island home of the Suquamish, the “people of the clear salt water,” I send my love and care to y’all on our global journey towards collective liberation.

– Deanna

Rev. Deanna Vandiver (she/they)


UUCSJ COVID-19 Response

Dear UUCSJ Community,

As news of the  COVID-19 virus unfolds, we at the College of Social Justice are assessing next steps. While we are all in a state of uncertainty, we are acting with caution for the well-being of our participants, partners, staff, and most vulnerable community members.

With the guidance of the UUA, UUSC, and recommendations from the CDC, and in communication with our friends and partners, we have decided to postpone all April 2020 CSJ delegations. Those participants have been notified and we are grateful for the understanding, love, and support we have received in response.

These are the only programs that have been postponed for now, but things may change as we receive more information. We are also thinking of creative ways to bring more of our programming online and would love to hear ideas from you!

We are all in community together and we are grateful for the ways in which you choose to show up, bear witness, and take action for the communities and partners we serve. Please be safe and if there is anything that we can do to be supportive of you, don’t hesitate to reach out.

As we move through this time together, we offer you a poem from UU minister Lynn Ungar.


What if you thought of it
as the Jews consider the Sabbath–
the most sacred of times?
Cease from travel.
Cease from buying and selling.
Give up, just for now,
on trying to make the world
different than it is.
Sing. Pray. Touch only those
to whom you commit your life.
Center down.

And when your body has become still,
reach out with your heart.
Know that we are connected
in ways that are terrifying and beautiful.
(You could hardly deny it now.)
Know that our lives
are in one another’s hands.
(Surely, that has come clear.)
Do not reach out your hands.
Reach out your heart.
Reach out your words.
Reach out all the tendrils
of compassion that move, invisibly,
where we cannot touch.

Promise this world your love–
for better or worse,
in sickness and in health,
so long as we all shall live.

-Lynn Ungar 3/11/2020​​

With love and care,

The UUCSJ team

Critical Connections in the UU Universe

Critical Connections in the UU Universe

Did you know that there are twenty-two established UU State Action Networks (SANs) and more forming as we speak (find out if your state has a SAN here)? Did you know that there is a Coalition of Unitarian Universalist State Action Networks (CUUSAN) that acts as a central “meeting place” and seeks to support their work?

State Action Networks are an important part of the UU Universe as they do work on the local level and can connect congregations to justice work happening near them. We at UUCSJ, UUSC and the UUA are excited about the many ways we have been working more closely with these passionate advocates for spiritually centered social justice!

This July, leaders from many of the UUSANs came together with staff from UUSC, UUA and UUCSJ to build relationships, learn together and share with each other the work we are doing at all levels: local, national and international. Hear about how two of those leaders felt about the convening below.

The Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network begins and ends our bi-monthly in-person statewide meetings with a Chalice Lighting accompanied by opening and closing words. One of my favorites is “Movements are born of critical connections rather than critical mass.” by Grace Lee Boggs.

The recent convening of representatives from most of the Unitarian Universalist State Action Networks in Boston in July lifted up each state’s focused legislative ministry and provided a platform for discovering potential national and regional social justice initiatives. Grateful thanks to UUSC and UUCSJ for bringing together key partners from the national UUA social justice family along with the SANs to build a movement of critical connections.

~ Julie Fitz-Randolph, Co-chair, Maine Unitarian Universalist State Advocacy Network,

As the Chair of a SAN operating since 2005, I was eager to meet with other SANs and the UU movement’s advocacy leaders when this summer’s retreat was scheduled, and I was very pleased with the whole program. It is clear that the national UU groups (UUA, UUSC, UUCSJ) now see SANS as critical partners in building the movement, and the UUA has now agreed to include CUUSAN in future General Assemblies and refer attendees to local SANs to further the justice work developed at GAs. I particularly appreciated the clarification we were provided about the national movement’s “advocacy ecosystem” since there are so many UU groups active in promoting a just and sustainable world. We discussed how best to collaborate on shared goals, development/engagement, and national campaigns. Especially important will be our collaboration on 2020 election efforts to preserve and promote democracy.

The gathering also provided some helpful training and workshops on SAN missions & visions, Theory of Change, and Power Analysis – to help us define what we want and how we accomplish our goals. Focus on relationship-centered organizing will be important as we move to center our efforts on people most affected by government policies, especially those that maintain control by the white supremacist, capitalist patriarchy. We also learned from each other new ways to support members of our community in becoming and staying involved, and how to strengthen these connections.

The gathering would not have been possible for many SANs without the generosity of UUSC in hosting and its grants that made it affordable. This generosity is continuing with partial funding for a session on fundraising for SANs that is scheduled for September. I am truly grateful to those who are providing such needed support for our state-based work, and I look forward to working closely with other states and the national leadership in this sacred work.

~ Steve Buckingham, Chair of the UU Legislative Ministry of Maryland,

As one of the staff members present for this gathering, and someone who is moving into the new position of Coordinator for Congregational Activism here at UUCSJ and UUSC, this was an amazing opportunity for me to connect with activist leaders across the country. It was great to hear about the work they are doing, what ways we at the national level can support them, and to be in the same physical space rather than over zoom! I am especially grateful for the time we all took to map out the UU social justice universe. My colleague Abby Crum and I are using that work as the basis for an online tool that we can share more widely, so keep an eye out for that. Lastly, I’m excited about all the ways we will work together to engage Unitarian Universalists in the vital work of creating the beloved community.

~ Heather Vickery

Coordinator for Congregation Activism

Meet our 2019 General Assembly Spark Leaders!

At this summer’s General Assembly, UUCSJ is excited to offer our third annual stipended leadership opportunity to alumni of our programs and related justice and leadership initiatives to support their engagement in social justice education, action, and outreach at GA. Read on to meet the team of awesome young adult justice-makers who will help “spark” connections and inspiration in the broader community of UUs gathered in Spokane, as part of our mission to inspire and sustain spiritually grounded activism for justice. Watch for them at Public Witness, the UUSC booth, at UUSC, Love Resists, and YA@GA workshops and events.


My name is Henry Katzman and I’m excited to introduce myself as a Spark Leader. Faithful Social Justice work has been a calling I have delved into these past few years. I have been called to many projects, mostly mental health advocacy and mentorship, but recently have worked with local political protesters, women’s marchers, and immigration justice seekers. I combine this work with participation in Unitarian Universalist programming, having attended Summer Seminary (As a recently bridged youth), Meaning Makers, The Youth Ministry Revival (having participated at a young adult) and local congregational leadership.

I will be attending Lesley University in the Fall, graduating in 2023. I plan to dual major in both Sociology and Social Work, paving a path to some form of ministerial work in the future. In the meantime, before school, I plan on publishing a book (which is almost written) and incorporating a nonprofit (which is also almost done), based around community gardening for marginalized folks. While serving as a Spark Leader, I hope to connect with young adults across the country, networking, listening, and advocating for what the future of social justice work looks like in our faith.

I look forward to meeting people at GA; if you see me feel free to say hi!


For a long part of my life I thought that I was alone. I didn’t know that there were other people who looked, thought and shared experiences like me. I couldn’t comprehend that someone could live life as their full authentic self, and that place of isolation was dark. I decided that my life had worth, and so did every single other person’s, and the spark within me was lit. At the time, I didn’t have the words to express the racism and discrimination I felt blatantly and insidiously through micro-aggressions. As my journey continued and the fight for my life and for others’ got stronger and harder, I felt my world blossom and bloom into a full flame when I found Unitarian Universalism. Even beyond that, when I attended UUCSJ’s GROW Racial Justice / THRIVE program, I met friends and family who affirmed me and loved all of me. Now because of that, I am able to be my authentic fat, biracial, pansexual, musical and silly self. Once you’ve seen the brilliance of that fully formed flame, there is no turning back. It is my hope in life to help spark other’s flames and lend some kindling or to fan a flame when times are tough. I am so thankful for this opportunity to serve on UUCSJ’s 2019 GA Spark team! 


KellyAnn was born and raised in Spokane, WA where she attended the UU Church of Spokane throughout her childhood – she is so excited for this opportunity to once again be UU-ing in her hometown! After being involved in a campus UU group in college and spending a year in the Quaker Voluntary Service, she now lives in Rhode Island with her sweetheart and (too) many tomato plants. She spends her working hours as an Americorps VISTA helping efforts to end childhood lead poisoning, and in her free time, she enjoys reading, reclaiming gossip, trying to learn Spanish, attending free community trainings, singing random snatches of songs, and going to meetings (especially at the First Unitarian Church of Providence, where she is on the Sanctuary Committee).

Lately, her spark has been fueled by the presences and lessons of those who have stayed with the struggle – through difficulties, barriers, heartbreaks, and time.



Chloe is a 21-year-old member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Fresno-Clovis, California. She’s a senior at CSU Fresno majoring in Strategic Communication, and some of her favorite pastimes include traveling, eating, and writing. As an alum of Luminary Leaders, Activate, Thrive, Grow, and Meaning Makers, she loves having the opportunity to connect and support fellow youth and young adults. Fun Fact! If you give Chloe a sticker, pin, or button, she may just give you a high five. As she enters into her third General Assembly, Chloe’s looking forward to joining others in discussing, supporting, and building the Power of We.

Insights from our RAICES Interns

Insights from our RAICES Interns

This summer, two of our Global Justice Interns are working with RAICES. In the past few weeks, RAICES has been in the national spotlight for the work they have been doing to help reunite separated families. Thanks to a viral Facebook fundraiser, they have raised more than $20 million dollars to continue fighting for immigration justice. We reached out to our interns to see how they are feeling about working with such an important organization at such a critical time. Here is what they had to say:

“The opportunity to work for RAICES when they are essentially on the front line of many immigration issues has been an extremely humbling experience. On a daily basis we interact with moms fighting for their children’s right to a better future. I feel blessed to be able to help these families in any way possible. The work we do is hard, but it is essential. Immigrant rights are human rights and we must always fight for humanity. La lucha siegue!” – Diana

“As someone who is already passionate about immigration rights and the immigration movement; I was blown away when I arrived at RAICES. The attorneys, legal assistants, and others are equally as passionate. They commit to long hours, and work through nights if something needs to get done. It’s amazing to see a group of people equally committed to making a difference. It just fueled me to run with what I love – the immigration movement. When I arrived at Karnes Detention Center, I was nervous. However, I was greeted by women and children who are grateful for our work. It’s difficult to listen to their stories, however these women symbolize the every parent. Every parent would do anything to give their child love, security, and a future. It’s incredible to see these women and their resilience. The children are also so kind and joyful, despite it feeling like the world is against them. Like Diana said, the work we do is hard, but it needs to be done. Immigration is about family and it always will be, and I am grateful to be in the front lines of this movement. Let’s fight the good fight!” – Jamie


Diana (center) poses with two other RAICES interns at the San Antonio Families Belong Together Rally on June 30.