News – July 7, 2023

Cover July 9, 2023

Dear Members and Friends:

I was surprised when asked if I would succeed Dianne Reece as Chair of the Justice Coordinating Committee. I hardly felt qualified to follow Dianne and her predecessor, Mary Koch. Diana and I are relatively new to both Houston and Unitarian Universalism. I was raised in the Methodist faith and Diana as a Catholic. Our journey has been long, but we know this is where we belong. And I was consoled with my new role in the JCC by the advice I would be given from my predecessors and by the level of commitment and knowledge of our various team leaders and many supporters/volunteers.

I have found that it is hard to define specific divisions of labor/issues. The organizational chart is like a moving Venn Diagram of a dozen circles. But we are united by our mission statement: to organize the talents and voices of our congregation to advocate for policies and practices at all levels of government and society that will positively impact the worth and dignity of people and our planet.

The following is a quick and brief summary of some of the highlights.

· The Community Projects team has a long list of ongoing projects: blood donations, food drives, Montrose Grace Place, Rebuild Houston, and its signature project of preserving the Yates Museum in Freedman’s Town.

· The Climate Action team has provided the community with a well-received and monthly “Plant Based Pot Luck Dinners” that includes timely panel discussions. Several of the members are leaders in local and state environmental action groups, which organize advocacy efforts at all levels of government.

· Partner Outreach gives the Church connections with many other local and even national organizations committed to social justice. TMO, TXUUJM, and Texas Impact top the list at the local and state level. At the national level, we work with UUSJ, UUSC, and others. All of these partners expand our reach to have an impact on public policy, as we strive to promote policies that reflect our values and principles.

· The Immigrations team tackles a wide and sometimes unpredictable array of issues and concerns relating to immigration/refugee policies. Since the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan, we have been sponsoring an Afghan family, with several volunteers having committed hundreds of hours to assisting not only the initial family, but others that asked for assistance. We are also involved in several efforts directed at the issues of immigration through our southern border. We secured a multi-year grant from the UU Funding Program, with a focus on highlighting the voices and experiences of asylum-seekers in Houston. We also have key members in a local, inter-faith rapid-response effort, which works with LaUnidad11, Casa Juan Diego, among others.

· Last, but certainly not least, is voting justice and issue-oriented advocacy. In the mid-terms of last year, FUUCH had a spectacular effort of several thousand postcards, phone calls, letters written, and text messages—plus a major effort in Precinct 20 to turn out the vote with two weekends of block walking. This recent 88th State Legislative Session saw an exhausting effort by dozens of FUUCH members in terms of attending advocacy days in Austin, plus emailing and phoning our representatives.

Currently, social justice advocacy for our values can be frustrating. But we must remind ourselves of the progress that has been achieved and will be achieved. While we are worried about some of the reversals we are seeing now, never forget Martin Luther King’s famous quote: The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.

Dale Story