AUUC’s Social Justice Committee and its interconnected Racial Justice, True Accotink Colors, and Green Sanctuary committees, provide a forum for initiating, coordinating, and guiding programs and projects with input from the congregation. The list below covers many of the current projects of the committee and we welcome ideas and leaders for new initiatives.
Over the past few years, AUUC has become increasingly involved in advocacy at the Federal, state, and local levels. At the Federal level, we have worked with Unitarian Universalists for Social Justice (UUSJ) by participating in the Write Here/Write Now letter writing campaigns, advocacy on Capitol Hill, and ‘witnessing’ events. At the state level, we worked with the Virginia Interfaith Center for Public Policy (VICPP), ARC of Northern Virginia, Virginia Interfaith Power & Light (VAIP&L) and Equality VA participating in email campaigns, making phone calls to state legislators and participating in their various lobby days in Richmond. Locally, we have actively supported Virginians Organized for Interfaith Community Engagement (VOICE), having as many as 45 people at some of the VOICE Actions and Faith Alliance for Climate Solutions. Learn more about two of our major advocacy partners below:
UUSJ aids UU’s and UU congregations to get their views heard in our nation’s capital. It does this in four ways:
- Maintaining study groups on the priority issues–currently Immigration, Environmental Justice (including Climate Change), Defending Our Democracy, and Economic Justice. The priority issues change every two years and will change next in 2021. Anyone can join a study group.
- Selecting issues and making it easy for UU’s to write letters on those issues to Congress. This is called Write Here! Write Now!, and UUSJ does it once a month most months.
- Arranging meetings with Congressional staff so UU’s can talk to Congress. Now with COVID, these meetings have expanded virtually so that everyone across the nation can meet with Congress!
- Publicizing Action Alerts, where individual UU’s can sign a letter to their Congressional representatives advocating for a solution to a particular injustice.
Founded in 2008, VOICE is a non-partisan coalition of almost 50 faith communities and civic organizations in Northern Virginia working together to build power in middle and low-income communities. AUUC has been a member of VOICE since 2011. VOICE organizes in Prince William, Fairfax, and Arlington counties as well as the City of Alexandria uniting people across lines of race, class, religion, political party and geography to take action on key issues in our community including but not limited to affordable housing, access to health and dental care, and immigrant rights. VOICE has deepened our relationships with interfaith communities across the region, including Muslims, Catholics, Sikhs, and Christians of every stripe. VOICE – Organizing for a New Dominion of Justice and Political Participation.
Founded by UU minister Rev. Donald Robinson in 1991, Beacon House continues to provide children ages 5-18 in Edgewood Commons affordable housing, NE Washington, DC, with a safe, nurturing, and life-expanding community in which to increase their academic achievement, discover their talents, and to grow into healthy adults who achieve their greatest potential.
Through our Beacon House liaison team at AUUC, we offer service opportunities that include tutoring and donations of school supplies, holiday gifts and warm clothing. Most years, Beacon House is voted as an outreach collection recipient by the congregation at the AUUC annual meeting through which our congregation provides monetary support as well.
This community-based interfaith event raises funds for local hunger-fighting agencies as well as the international relief and development efforts of Church World Service. The Burke/Fairfax area CROP Hunger Walk involves about 20 congregations and organizations and is held annually on the Sunday before Thanksgiving at 2 p.m. Normally, the walk is about 3 miles long and is stroller/wheelchair accessible; therefore, it is great for a variety of ages. However, due to COVID, this year’s CROP Walk will be virtual. Learn more about this year’s walk.
Green Sanctuary Program
The Green Sanctuary/Green team helps to integrate environmental awareness and action into church life. The Team organizes special projects and adult enrichment programs and works in connection with other church groups. The Team is supported by UU Ministry for Earth and the UUA’s Green Sanctuary Program which both provides a path for congregational study, reflection, and action for today’s environmental challenges – including climate change and environmental justice. This year, we conducted Art With a (Re)Purpose which was AUUC’s first ever online environmental art show. All artworks showcased were made fully or partially with repurposed or recycled materials. To see how “trash” can be beautiful, view the artwork here: Accotink UU Spring Arts Blog. Contact Mary Rose J. or Marsha W.
For 9 years, AUUC has hosted a hypothermia shelter for ~30 of our area’s homeless population, and everyone is invited to participate. Doing this requires a set-up crew each evening to ensure the building is ready to receive our guests and a clean-up crew each morning to ensure the building is ready for our renters. In addition to providing a warm place to sleep, we serve dinner each evening which requires people to prepare meal items and people to arrange/serve the food and clean the kitchen after the meal. This is a family friendly event and older children (around 10) are welcome to participate in the shelter any night under parental supervision.
NOTE: Due to COVID, we will not be hosting a shelter at AUUC in 2021 but will be providing meals to a central location for several days in January.
Traditionally, Accotink friends and families are encouraged to donate a pair of new mittens or gloves, scarves, hats, socks or other warm accessories for children and teens. These gifts of warmth are shared among the students we support at Halley Elementary School in Fairfax Station and children and teens at Beacon House in Washington, D.C. This is a great way to get the whole family involved with outreach. Stay tuned for details about our 2020 plans.
AUUC has partnered with Halley Elementary School in nearby Lorton to provide 30 children with meal packs that are distributed to the students every week by school counselors. Like many students in Fairfax County Public Schools today, these children receive free or reduced lunch during the week, but face challenges of hunger and food insecurity 7 days per week. Our meal packs contain nutritious, non-perishable foods, and include items for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A lot of us have asked ourselves, given our UU values and in this time of pandemic, what can we do to help? Many of our traditional hands-on volunteer opportunities are closed to us, but there are still some organizations who are asking for assistance. Visit the COVID-19 Volunteering page to learn more.
As part of its overall mission, our AUUC congregation under the leadership of the Social Justice Committee annually selects 12 recipients of special monthly collections to benefit a wide range of worthwhile nonprofit organizations, at the same time educating the congregation about their contributions to the local and regional community. We welcome suggestions for recipients of our Outreach Collections from anyone in the congregation. Two of the twelve monthly slots are reserved each year for outreach collections for UUSJ and VOICE. Learn more
Each year, AUUC sponsors 23 of the poorest children in the Mawkria Unitarian School in northeast India. For each student, $40 is donated by a church member to cover the cost of books, desk repairs, a subsidy to the low-paid teacher, and incidental expenses for a year. Learn more
Each year we support the Season for Nonviolence (Jan 30 – Apr 4), a time of peacemaking and consciousness-raising opportunity, inspired by the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Through our Social Justice Committee, AUUC is a longtime sponsor of the Student Peace Awards of Fairfax County. These prestigious awards are given annually to local high school students and student organizations to promote and reward peacemaking efforts. In 2019-2020, twenty-six high schools in the County selected student recipients of Peace Awards. These students were honored at a spring gala reception and their peace-making actions were publicized in the local Connection Newspapers. Several AUUC members are active members of the Student Peace Award Committee and work with the schools to solicit nominations.
Unfortunately, violence too frequently continues to be perpetuated in policies and practices that inflict undue suffering and harm to communities of color. We know now is the time for people of faith and good will to stand up and speak out. If this describes you, following are some racial justice organizations that will help you get better informed and provide volunteer and witnessing opportunities. Visit the Racial Justice page to learn more.
TAC is open to everyone who is interested in LGBTQ+ rights and advocacy. Our mission is to be active participants in the LGBTQ+ community and support ongoing equality efforts. We also strive to create a welcoming community within AUUC. Learn more
Unitarian Universalist Service Committee
UUSC is a voluntary, non-sectarian organization working in partnership with grassroots organizations in the US and abroad to confront oppression and advance justice throughout the world. We support them through yearly contributions, occasional Outreach Collections, Guest at Your Table boxes, and Fair Trade sales.
UU The Vote was a nationwide UUA campaign to engage UU congregations in the 2020 electoral process. The focus of UU the Vote included voter registration, voter turnout, and combating voter suppression, particularly in marginalized neighborhoods. Democracy and the right of all people to have a vote are at the heart of our Seven Principles. The work is nonpartisan and involves taking concrete actions. As part of this 36 AUUC members and friends sent nearly 4000 handwritten postcards encouraging voters to verify their voter registration status and vote. In addition, many participated in phone and text banks.