“In My America” written and performed by Hal Walker, from his CD, Home in Ohio. Used by permission.
Social Justice and Community Outreach
The UUCK acts on its passion for social justice. Our recent survey showed that more than 57 percent of members identified “social justice commitment and activities” as one “Reason I Am a Part of the UUCK Community.” They rated highly the view that “the community cares about social justice” (6.09 on a 7-point scale) and the “tradition of addressing social justice issues” is a strength of the community (6.05). The UUCK seeks to learn about, support, and live its passion for social justice. We are especially proud of our recent accreditation as a Green Sanctuary. At the same time we celebrate our longtime tradition of living and breathing social justice efforts within our church community that served as roots from which community-wide social justice organizations have grown well beyond our walls. Our Social Justice Coordinator facilitates the work of our three task groups: Environmental Justice, Human Rights Social Justice, and Hunger and Economic Justice. The goal of the task groups is to encourage broad congregational participation in social justice work.
Check out our current social justice brochure here.
Learning About Social Justice
Congregants learn about social justice issues and their everyday, social, and institutional implications, and how to better engage in social justice actions and advocacy, through worship services and adult education opportunities.
- Numerous recent minister and lay-led Sunday services have focused on social justice.
- Adult RE activities provide opportunities to become better educated about and prepared to act on social justice issues. Racial justice is the focus of current Adult RE social justice efforts at the UUCK. Workshops often follow a curriculum; small group discussions often follow viewing a relevant film or reading a book centered on a specific social justice issue; nationally-prominent guest speakers bring enhanced expertise to the congregation.
- The minister and/or members attended numerous conferences to learn more about social justice issues, often with financial support from the church, and with the understanding that they will bring that knowledge back to our church.
Providing Tangible Support for Social Justice Causes
The UUCK community supports social justice issues and promotes activism through significant and numerous financial and material donations.
- A Minister’s Discretionary Fund is designed to support members of our community in need of short-term financial assistance. The MDF is tapped privately at the complete discretion of the minister only. Funds are collected throughout the year as well as once a year as part of the Special Collections. Special Collections for the MDF in the past five years have ranged from $2253 to more than $3700; typical total annual donations are approximately $5,000.
- Special Monthly Collections are made once each month to address specific social justice issues. Donations are contributed to a designated and named organization for that month. In the past five years, the total funds collected annually have ranged from approximately $10,200 to $12,300.
- The UUCK collects monetary and food donations several times each year to address food justice in our local community. The church also participates in the Kent community’s Saturday Hot Lunch Program.
- Children and Youth are involved in tangible support for social justice. They conduct several fundraisers and material and monetary collections each year to support the social justice causes and or populations in need that they choose.
Engaging in Activism and Advocacy
In addition to providing tangible support, the UUCK lives its passion for social justice, in part, through collective and individual actions. That passion is evident in official congregational-supported resolutions. It is also found in participation in marches, protests, and vigils and other actions that give voice to that passion.
- The congregation has a long history of commitment to social justice, beginning with its founders.
- That commitment was evident during the Vietnam War era in the UUCK community’s stands and actions regarding the draft and the war in Southeast Asia.
- The UUCK has passed numerous resolutions since 2000 in support of social justice issues.
- Collections of members participated in marches, protests, and rallies in opposition to hate speech and to support issues such as gender equality, the value of science, racial justice, universal health care, and the needs to address the problems of climate change and hunger.
- The UUCK’s passion for gender equality was evident in sponsoring Freedom Weddings, held for two gay couples at our church (with service decorations, a reception with flowers, food, and champagne) on July 3, 2015.
Taking Pride in Our 2017 Green Sanctuary Accreditation
The UUCK is especially proud of its 2017 accreditation by the UUA as a Green Sanctuary. Achieving this designation involved learning about, supporting, and living environmental justice. The achievement followed substantial “green work” that included the completion of four action plans that centered on environmental justice projects; worship and celebration; religious education; and sustainable living.
Celebrating Community-Wide Organizations That Began within the UUCK’s Walls
The UUCK provided roots from which Kent community-wide social and environmental justice organizations have grown. These early pioneering efforts led to enduring and currently thriving Kent community entities.
- A fledgling environmental movement began in the church basement that led to the 1970 founding of the Kent Environmental Council.
- The church served as a site for a food co-op that spawned one of Kent’s longtime downtown businesses, the Kent Natural Foods Co-Operative.
- The Socially Responsible Sweatshop (SRS), a community and Farmers Market fixture, began as a grassroots effort at the UUCK. The SRS sews and sells functional products made from recycled fabric with 100% of proceeds used as matching funds at Kent Farmers Market for people who are on food assistance.