Justice Associates Curriculum
Training Leaders and Doers:
We are seeking to develop a curriculum for training and nurturing congregational and community leaders who are interested in becoming Justice Associates – centering the needs of our next generation of leaders. This training will incorporate practical skills with a focus on faith formation. Spiritually grounded, the curriculum seeks to combine 21st-century innovative solutions and a multiplicity of perspectives to better equip leaders to engage in the spectrum of support needed in justice work from a religious grounding. The Justice Leaders Initiative is built on the understanding that our leaders should feel spiritually fed by the work to build the Beloved Community, in addition to being better practical and administrative leaders.
Supporting Spiritual Grounding:
Our tradition has models for training Pastoral Care Associates and Worship Associates, but there is no equivalent for supporting the swell of leaders in our congregations and beyond who are focused on Justice as one of their main spiritual practices. At the UU Fellowship of Huntington, we wanted to come up with a way to support our leaders in their work for justice, while deepening their spiritual grounding and supporting their overall development as leaders. In discussions with many parish ministers and UUA program consultants, there is overwhelming desire to develop such a program. While some congregations and individuals have tried to achieve such a program through various means, our hope is to develop a unified program with widespread support and implementations.
The Justice Leaders Initiative seeks to address this gap – supporting individuals, strengthening ties between lay leaders within congregations, but also across our congregations. Some locations may use it internally, while others might use it in congregational clusters.
Collaborating for the Future:
While the genesis of this project grew out of one congregation, it is our hope that it will be a resource for the whole denomination and beyond. That’s why the curriculum will be developed through the synergetic, exploratory process of the “curriculum incubator” at the Fahs Collaborative.
Fahs has created several other curricula through this incubator model with varying formats. One such curriculum is the UUCSJ Study Guide for Cross-Cultural Engagement. Another project from Fahs you may know is the Beloved Coversastions Curriculum.
Working with the Fahs Collaborative ensures the project will be built on the cutting edge of faith formation and supported by a team that is passionate about faith formation for all ages. In their words, “Fahs Curriculum Incubators gather experienced educators to grow a seed of an idea into a full and useful learning encounter, or create new curricular strategies for solving stubborn faith formation challenges. Members of the incubator teams are invited to join projects that match their skill-set, disposition and experience of breaking social molds.” The values inherent in the Fahs approach to development will be instilled in the project.
Crafted for Congregation & Community:
As soon as funding is secured, the Fahs Collaborative will gather development participants to draft the curriculum – hopefully in the early months of 2019. The final project will likely be a curriculum of 12-15 hours of content in the form of six to seven 2-hour lesson sessions, or one 6-hour retreat plus six to nine additional learning session hours. A group of three to four writers will meet in one location for several days to develop the curriculum plan based on our goals, then work virtually to produce the learning materials. Then, the program will then be piloted in the Spring at the UU Fellowship of Huntington, NY. After a final assessment and revisions based on feedback from the pilot, the Justice Leaders Initiative will be available to congregations and faith communities via the Fahs Collaborative catalog of curricula.
Your support makes it possible!
We have already secured funding from three other sources: the Fahs Collaborative, the UUA office of Youth and Young Adults, and the UU Fellowship of Huntington.
But, we need your help to close the gap. And that seems so fitting – in the work for justice and our Unitarian Universalist faith, we are supported and uplifted by the gifts and effort of the individual for the whole. So please, donate what you can to help make this project a success, not just for the UU Fellowship of Huntington, but for all those working for justice in the name of Unitarian Universalism.
Sustainable Leadership for Social Change
Our justice movements are in need of resilient, transformative, community-centered leadership. We are in politically tumultuous times as a nation and across the globe. Social justice movement leaders are in need of spaces in which they can recharge, reflect and renew their commitment while connecting to a larger network of change makers. Through Rowe Camp and Conference Center, we are able to offer the Sustainable Leadership for Social Change Program. This program gives us the opportunity to train new social change makers, support leaders currently immersed in justice work and explore sustainability practices in social change work grounded in Unitarian Universalist values. Our first cohort will begin in November and due to the remote nature of Rowe Camp and Conference Center, we’ve created this Faithify campaign is to assist participants with transportation costs to western Massachusetts. While there are some limited scholarships to assist with the other associated costs of the program, we continue to seek out ways to reduce the costs for those in need of additional financial assistance. As our congregations and communities offer refuge to the seeker of spiritual depth, may we be able to offer that refuge to those that seek and strive for the liberation of all people.
The goals for this new program are:
Serving the need: a vision for what the world needs, and so what we aim to achieve in the Sustainable Leadership for Social Change program.
1. Awareness of need for collective practice: We need to envision new ways of engaging in the work of social change together. This includes practices that lead us towards collective decision making and collaborative action and models that are grounded in trust and sustainability, allowing us to move in and out of leadership and support roles while identifying those amongst us with a variety of skill sets, interests and energy.
2. Community care practices for keeping ourselves and our movements going: The vitality of our movements are connect to how we care for one another and ourselves. It is our imperative to cultivate and expand practices of resilience and persistence especially when faced with loss. We will find creative, inspiring and nourishing ways to sustain our spirit while addressing ongoing issues and obstacles.
3. Connection and Support: Each of us gains through being connected with those around us. We will delve into relationship building and explore the self-awareness needed to sustain meaningful connections.
4. Intersectionality and Interconnectedness: Leaders recognize we cannot afford to only focus on a single justice issue, on the contrary there are many areas of injustice that together impact how we experience the world. Justice issues are connected, so we must work collaboratively in addressing this complex web with a holistic approach. We will broaden our focus and support of coalition building, moving beyond a narrow focus.
5. Desire to model justice in practice: Our praxis and methods matter as much as the actions we take in creating a more justice world. What would it look like for us to embody how we want justice to look in our world? Effective justice work practices doing the work in the same way we hope the world will do the work of justice.
6. Collaborative decision making and consensus: Majority rule decision making process leave too many people ignored and unheard. We will experiment with decision making processes that allow us to respond with a deep respect of all voices and opinions while exercising effective and inclusive communication.
7. Practical techniques for social change: We will explore how political theories and history inform our current praxis. This provides us an opportunity in responding to the technical question of “how do we do this”. The diverse aspects of being involved in justice work involve strategic planning, a tactical toolkit and a focus on relationship building. In justice work, it’s important that we are adaptive, intentional, relational, accountable and grounded in liberation of all.
8. Moving towards spirals and cycle of justice: Visionaries that recognize justice movements ebb and flow with experiences of great victory and loss. We will work through disenchantment and discouragement by maintaining a steadfast practice of persistence and holding the long range view in our sights.
UU congregations will benefit from having trained Social Change leaders who can work within their congregation and community to promote justice actions and activities in stragegically created programs.
This program is two years long, with participants coming for two week-long sessions and two weekend workshops each year. The first program starts this November, 2018, with the second week in May, 2019.
The Director of the Sustainable Leadership for Social Change (SLSC) program is C. Nancy Reid-McKee. She has been involved in social justice work for over 35 years, in a variety of roles: community organizer, protest leader, activist, legislative involvement, direct service projects, educator, agitator, and more. She has just completed the requirements for ministry through Starr King School for the Ministry where a lot of her work focused on how to develop social justice work that is grounded in a sustaining spiritual practice, and that can enhance and be enhanced by being integral to our faith community.
Assistant Director is India Harris: India Harris is currently serving as a Youth and Young Adult Program Coordinator at the Unitarian Universalist Congregation at Shelter Rock. She is an active member of the Audre Lorde Project; The Audre Lorde Project is a community organizing center for LGBT people of color based in New York City. Her organizing work has consisted of base building, membership development, leading community organizing trainings, campaign development and supporting a national gathering on community accountability and transformative justice. Before gaining experience as an organizer she spent a year with AmeriCorps Public Allies. There, she completed 1700 community service hours as a Client Services Advocate for the Alliance of AIDS Services in Durham, NC.
This program is also receiving money from the UU Funding Program and from the Rowe Center, to provide program support and student scholarships.
Mental Health First Aid
I am a UU who has a passion for improving the lives of those impacted by mental illness. As the mother of 2 sons with bipolar disorder, I have returned to school so I can help affect change. This month I finished my first semester at Boston University’s School of Theology. I plan to become a UU Chaplain and educate and advocate through a mental health ministry.
The intersection I am standing at in the picture is where one of my sons was in 2010 when he was having a mental health crisis. He stood in the middle of the street throwing CD cases at cars and yelling. Most motorists swerved around him and some screamed in anger. There was just one woman who stopped. She unrolled her car window and asked if he needed help. He replied, “Yes,” and she got out of her car and led him to the curb. This stranger sat and talked with him until the police came. We never found out who she was, yet she made all the difference that day.
Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) is an 8-hour training that teaches how to assist someone who is facing a mental health or substance use challenge. I want to teach MHFA because 1 in 5 people has a mental health condition, and anyone can encounter someone in crisis like my son was that day. I have a strong foundation for teaching the course. My background is working as an RN, and I recently completed a Master’s in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.
A great place to start in providing mental health education is within our churches. Your contribution will allow me to attend an MHFA 5-day training in June, covering the cost of the course, travel, and lodging. Completing this training will certify me to teach the class which I will then be able to offer UU ministers and congregants in the greater Boston area. You can find out more information regarding MHFA at https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/. Thank you for your support.