The Unitarian Church of Harrisburg has several active lay-led groups specific to spiritual practice, education, community building, and social justice. Groups specific to social justice are listed here.
Breast Cancer Awareness
CLIMATE JUSTICE (formerly Green Sanctuary)
UCH works in collaboration with UUPLAN Environmental Justice team. The team meets on ZOOM on the second Thursday of every month at 7:30 PM.
UUPLAN E-J Mission Statement: Our Mission is to explore what it means to live within a religious community on an imperiled Earth and join in efforts, both symbolic and explicit, to becoming stewards of the Earth.
As a member of PA Interfaith Power and Light, the UUPLAN Environmental Justice Team voted at their Feb. 9, 2017 meeting to adopt the Policy Resolution on Fracking and Infrastructure authored by PA-IPL.
Key Goals for 2018:
- Continue to work toward a fracking and pipeline infrastructure MORALtorium in Pennsylvania.
- Expand our interfaith connections on climate justice issues.
- Explore efforts to reach more UU youth.
- Incorporate a racial justice perspective to the work of our environmental justice team.
- Support a federal carbon fee & dividend, as proposed by Citizens’ Climate Lobby.
- Encourage churches / individuals to divest from fossil fuels.
Helping People in Prison and Their Families
Reproductive Justice Allies
Reproductive Justice Allies seek to inform the UCH congregation about reproductive justice issues in concert with UUPlan. Lay-led ministry members provide input to Roe v. Wade service planning and to campaigns in support of a variety of Planned Parenthood activities. Members also support the efforts of the newly-established Pennsylvania Religious Coalition for Reproductive Rights. See PA Clergy for Choice on Facebook. Contact Barb Pearce, James Cavenaugh, or Margaret Blough for more information or visit the UUA Web site.
Social Justice Roundtable
The Social Justice Roundtable connects the UCH social justice teams and lay-led ministries. Its purpose is to inform, educate, share our events, advocate for our UU principles, and support each other. Roundtable meetings and Journey to Justice presentations will be held at Clover Lane at 7 PM on the 4th Wednesday of each month, beginning May 23, 2018. We hope all UCH activists will send a representative to these meetings and include your schedule of events in our listing. We will be keeping a calendar of UCH and community action events on the UCH Website Social Justice page. Everyone is welcome and encouraged to participate. For information, contact Rachel Mark or Karen Sykes.
UUPLAN (Unitarian Universalist Pennsylvania Legislative Action Network) is the state advocacy network for Unitarian Universalists in Pennsylvania. We currently support 7 legislative justice teams: (Anti-Mass Incarceration, Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Good Government, Gun Violence Prevention, Immigration Justice, and Reproductive Justice) by monitoring legislation and advocating to lawmakers. Our mission is to be the voice of UU values in the public square. Contact Anita Mentzer, UCH liaison to UUPLAN, for more information. Learn more here.
We March. We Act.
We March. We Act. is a new UCH lay-led ministry that was born from the energy of the 2017 Women’s March on Washington. The charter of the group is to support one another in taking specific, effective actions that are relevant during the current political environment. We are committed to meeting in person (once a month for 90 minutes) to share important information, identify inspired actions, and share joys and sorrows related to this difficult work. If you would like to be added to the Google Groups email list for this group, please contact Wendy Shaver.
Currently, our primary focus is leading a Power to the Polls project in the marginalized neighborhood surrounding Alison Hill. This project began in March 2018 when we partnered with the League of Women Voters to train 15 members in how to register people to vote. Since then over 60 volunteers have participated in talking to church neighbors about the importance of voting and to help break down any barriers they may have to participate in the election process. Over the last months, we have regularly facilitated a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) table at Common Ground Cafe and Community Hours. We have hosted four door-to-door canvass events. And we served pasta to about 75 neighbors at a Voter Education Dinner during which guests could practice on a voting machine and review information about all of the candidates. There will be one more Get Out the Vote canvass on Saturday, November 3, 10-2. In addition, we will be providing voter support all day on Tuesday, November 6, 7 am - 8 pm. We March. We Act. will be providing rides, a light meal, and a Kid’s Corner to voters at the Voting Precinct. Please contact Wendy Shaver (717-802-2920) if you can donate hours or money to this project. We are truly making a difference in individual lives as well as for a more just democracy.
Other projects that we have supported since our inception in March 2017:
- WM. WA. provided significant support to the Pennsylvania chapter of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival that is sponsoring weekly Calls to Action on Mondays from May 14 to June 18. Members attended the actions, hosted their organizing meetings at the church, and prepared meals for the activists.
- May 2017 was our first big event: hosting the “March on Harrisburg” group at UCH’s Market Street campus as 50 activists arrived in the state capital to participate in legislative advocacy, rallies, demonstrations, and nonviolent civil disobedience to promote the goal of a fair democracy. See the specific goals of the March here. WM.WA. served as hosts to the marchers. We provided a huge potluck dinner for them after their week-long march across the state and then provided support as they slept in the sanctuary of the Market Street church for three nights. Many members of the UCH community, as well as many members of the Allison Hill neighborhood, supported the March on Harrisburg in their actions at the Capitol.
- In September 2017, we led the interfaith vigil to support the immigrant women and children being held at the Berks County Detention Center. We prayed, sang, chanted, showed signs of support to the families (in Spanish and English), as well as made phone calls to the governor indicating that we do not believe this is the way to treat immigrants. We also collected many boxes of toiletries and food that were requested by the families in the center such as granola bars and toothpaste. We were joined at the vigil by members of other UU churches in the state.
We March. We Act. (in conjunction with the "spinoff" group Power to the Hill which is solely focused on voter engagement) continues to work on the goal of removing roadblocks for historically marginalized voters. For over two years now, members and friends of UCH have supported this vital, non-partisan work in many ways including knocking on doors, making phone calls, preparing food, and giving financially. In 2020, the UUA has chosen UU THE VOTE IN 2020 as its primary focus for justice and inclusion work. It turns out that UCH is ahead of the curve! Check out this link for more information on the UUA campaign. As door to door canvassing is not possible right now, the strategy has changed to phone banking. We are now calling registered voters in the city of Harrisburg (9th Ward - Districts 1, 2, and 3).