Expand MUUSJA’s Interfaith & Statewide Organizing
Crowdfunding Completed: December 15, 2017
Amount Funded: $6268
Project Owner: MUUSJA- The MN Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance
Short Description of Project
With our new Statewide Organizer, our ever-growing network of local and national partnerships, and deep interfaith work, MUUSJA is entering a new era.
How was this project connected to UU?
MUUSJA’s mission is to “unleash courageous leadership and collective power to build a just and loving world.” Founded nearly 20 years ago by UUs from several Twin Cities congregations, MUUSJA has Unitarian Universalist values, practices, and congregations at its foundation. We work both within Unitarian Universalism—providing programming and resources for UU individuals, congregations, and organizations—and beyond our faith, in the secular and interfaith arenas of organizing, activism, advocacy, and social justice faith formation and praxis.
Full Description of Project
MUUSJA serves as a Convener and Capacity Builder for Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith, within and beyond the borders of Minnesota. Over the past several years, we have grown in programming, partnerships, and impact, and are at an exciting threshold moment. We are launching this Faithify campaign to help us do three critical things:
1.) EXPAND OUR SUPPORT FOR CONGREGATIONS IN GREATER MINNESOTA
A Somali activist speaks about Islamophobia to a cluster gathering of central MN UUs
There are 26 Unitarian Universalist congregations within our borders, 14 of which are located outside of the Twin Cities Metro Area. Many of these congregations are small, lay-led fellowships that are often the only progressive religious voice in their region. Our outstate congregations call upon MUUSJA to provide training to justice leaders, offer opportunities for relationship-building across long distances, and nurture spiritual and political grounding for their faithful justice-makers courageously living out our Unitarian Universalist values in their local contexts.
This Faithify campaign will ensure that we are able to increase the resources, trainings, in-person visits, and programming we offer to our more rural congregations. Some concrete examples planned for 2018 include:
–Cluster gatherings of UU congregations in central, northern, and southern Minnesota
–In-person trainings and worship services offered by our Statewide Organizer
–Free, regular online covenant groups, webinars, and leadership seminars
–Consulting services for congregations looking to build partnerships, re-imagine their justice ministries, or dig deep on specific justice issues such as racial justice or Sanctuary
2.) DEEPEN OUR INTERFAITH & NATIONAL PARTNERSHIPS
MUUSJA has been a key partner in many interfaith actions, coalitions, and networks over the past few years. Because of our leadership, we continue to encounter opportunities for collaboration and programming that reaches beyond Unitarian Universalism and strengthens the skills and public voice of the progressive religious movement in Minnesota. Like our partner organizations, MUUSJA has a commitment to donating staff time and resources to these partnerships, which we in turn ask our base to support. When you give to this Faithify campaign, you are supporting projects like:
Participants in the MARCH Sacred Solidarity cohort
MARCH: Multifaith Anti-Racism, Change, & Healing. MUUSJA is a key coalition partner in MARCH, along with organizations like Jewish Community Action, The Kaleo Center for Faith, Justice, & Social Transformation, The Center for Sustainable Justice, and OutFront Minnesota. Our staff sit at the leadership table of MARCH, and contribute organizing, facilitation, curriculum design, and more to continue building a powerful network of mobilized, spiritually-grounded, skilled people of faith across a wide spectrum of religious traditions. MARCH’s key programs include the Sacred Solidarity Network (a cohort of predominantly-white congregations committed to deepening their work for racial justice activism and ministry); CommunityWell (a resource- and asset-mapping project that helps congregations strategically offer their human and material resources to support movements for justice led by frontline communities); a series of one-time interfaith trainings/workshops for people of faith intended to delve into pressing political issues (i.e., tactics of disruption for social change, the Movement for Black Lives’ call to defund/disband/disarm/demilitarize the police, bystander interventions and community safety strategies for the Trump era); and interfaith worship services and rituals for key movement moments.
Partnerships with National UU Justice Work: MUUSJA continues to work closely with several Unitarian Universalist groups throughout the country.
MUUSJA delegates rise in support of the Water Protectors, Camp Oceti Sakowin
–Following our collaboration with the UU Congregation of Bismarck, ND, and supporting the Water Protectors at Standing Rock during 2016-2017, MUUSJA became an official Collaborative Partner with the Inter-National Initiative for Transformative Collaboration (INITC), an Indigenous-led coalition that is “continuing the conversation and discovery process of what it means to be Human, and how to work together for Cultural, Social, and Environmental Equity.” We will be supporting and participating in INITC’s international convening in 2018.
–MUUSJA is partnering with MidAmerica Region UUA to offer a series of six webinars focusing on social justice leadership in congregations, coming in January 2018.
–MUUSJA partners in an ongoing way with the UU College of Social Justice, the UU Service Committee, Standing on the Side of Love, and the Love Resists Campaign on a range of programs and collaborations.
3.) SUSTAIN OUR NEW STATEWIDE ORGANIZER POSITION
Rev. Ashley Horan & Pastor Danny Givens, MUUSJA Staff
In 2017, we received a $15,000 grant from the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee to help us hire our first-ever part-time Organizer. Four congregations in the Twin Cities area (Unity Church-Unitarian, First Universalist Church, First Unitarian Society, and White Bear UU Church) agreed to match those funds for at least one year. In August 2017, we hired Pastor Danny Givens as MUUSJA’s Statewide Organizer.
In addition to Pastor Danny’s incredible résumé and depth of experience as a transformative leader at the intersections of faith and social justice, the creation of this new position allowed us to double our staff capacity at MUUSJA (previously, MUUSJA’s only employee was our half-time Executive Director, Rev. Ashley Horan). With two staff members, we are now able to offer significantly increased programming and deepen partnerships throughout the state; Pastor Danny’s deep network of relationships in the UU, interfaith, and secular organizing worlds is also an incredible asset.
We hope to sustain, and even increase, the Statewide Organizer position in the coming year(s). Part of the funds raised in this Faithify campaign will go directly to funding this staff role into the future.