- Unitarian Universalism Connection
Our Be the Love Campaign is a response to recent attacks on civil rights, health care, the environment, and freedom of religion in our country. Using our existing structures, we hope to expand our justice programming to become a local center for community based activism, to bring in musicians, storytellers, and speakers on justice issues, and to offer yoga and meditation classes for all ages to build resilience in our community.
Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson held a “Vote Love” vigil on Election Night 2016, on the church lawn, across the street from the town hall polling place. State Sen. Jamie Eldridge attended along with a dozen or so members and friends.
The Background: Election Night and Beyond
Last fall, our social justice team met to discuss the social justice projects we wanted to be involved in. We realized that our lawn in the center of the Hudson, Massachusetts provides a venue for bearing witness to our values. Recognizing the deep partisan divisions in our nation, we created VOTE LOVE lawn signs and placed them around the perimeter of our building. We held a candle-lit peace vigil on our property on the night of the election. Post-election, we realized there was much work to be done, and we began our Be the Love campaign, which started by replacing the VOTE LOVE signs with new ones, reading BE THE LOVE.
Since September of 2008, our congregation of about 50 members has hosted dozens of programs every semester through our Spiritual Growth & Community Center (SGCC). These programs have run the gamut from games nights, to Islamophobia workshops, to healing circles, to peace vigils, to abstract art classes, to pagan and atheist covenant groups. Our motto has been: Growing Spirits, Changing the World.
The Be the Love Campaign is an expansion of our SGCC programming to increase our justice oriented events. It is not a change in focus so much as a shift in the scope and depth of this aspect of our programming.
Members of the Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson proclaimed our “Be the Love” mission at the Women’s March, Jan 22, 2017.
The “Be the Love” Mission
Be the embodiment of radical love that calls us to live out our 1st and 7th principles which affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person and the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. These theological premises call us to promote the wellbeing and rights of every man, woman and child, regardless of race, gender, sexual identity, age, ethnicity, or ability, as well as the wellbeing of our ecosystems and our planet.
In the service of this mission we will offer programs that:
- Inspire courage and resolve.
- Educate and provide tools for informed action
- Provide opportunities for direct actions of witness, resistance, and advocacy
- Help sustain resilience through building community, promoting health, and engaging in spiritual practices
Congregants take a knee in resistance to white supremacy culture at Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson, Oct. 1, 2017.
The Goal: Programs That Build Resilience
Our total budget for the project is $21,280, which includes:
- A Be the Love concert (including travel arrangements)
- Concert sound system
- Speaker and workshop leader fees
- Yoga/meditation leader fees
- Building use
- Spiritual Growth & Community Center Brochure
- Staff time
Most of this funding comes from our annual church and Spiritual Growth & Community Center budgets.
We have received a matching grant for $4,800 from the UU Funding Panel for this work, so we are asking the Faithify community for help in funding the additional $4,800 needed. In other words, all contributions to this Faithify campaign will be doubled!
This funding will help us achieve the following goals:
- Become a center for community based activism in Hudson through opening our church to justice oriented events. This has already begun. Last spring we held the Hudson Huddle (an offshoot of the Women’s March on Washington), and an educational event with Black Lives Matter Boston leaders. This fall we are hosting Citizens Uniting to Restore the Democracy, a program of the Economic Equity in Politics Working Group of UU Mass Action, as well as a workshop on ways to get involved in immigration work.
- Bring in musicians, storytellers, and speakers in a multi-faceted campaign geared toward education and inspiration. In the past we have hosted concerts with Holly Near and Kim & Reggie Harris, and a performance of the Climate Monologues with Sharon Abreu. We have also brought in speakers such as authors Chris Stedman on Faitheism or Chuck Collins on wealth inequality. We would like to offer at least one justice oriented concert, as well as four to five speaker/workshop events on justice issues.
- Build resilience for justice work by adding yoga and meditation classes to the list of spiritual practices that we offer. This would be structured as at least four classes, two for adults and two for children, each running for 10 week sessions.
Unitarian Church of Marlborough and Hudson members hold a Black Lives Matter vigil on the church lawn, a visible spot in the center of town.
The Time is Now
During the 2017-2018 program year, it is our goal to have at least 1 Be the Love concert, 4-5 Be the Love speakers/concerts and to host 2-3 community organizations for one-time programs or ongoing meetings. In addition, it is our goal to have an ongoing yoga & meditation class for children, as well as yoga classes for adults. If our campaign is successful, we will have accomplished this by June 30, 2018.
It is our hope that as we build our audience the SGCC will be increasingly self-sustaining financially. This has been the trend over recent years, although we have found that new programs often require a financial investment before they become successful.