The Blog

Stop the Demise of the ACA!

There is an immediate need for letters to the editor, letters and calls to Senators Toomey and Casey, and to your Congresspeople concerning the demise of the ACA.

Our calls and messages must be in the hands of the legislators by Monday March 19th. If you decide to write, post cards are preferable. Letters to the editor must be written as soon as possible and should not exceed 150 words.

If we table at our churches this Sunday and on Sunday, March 18th, and collect the post cards or papers, it would be best to have someone hand deliver the stack to their local offices to ensure timely delivery.

Consider taking your cell phone to church and asking people to make calls during coffee hour.

All PA Congressmen should be contacted, however three are crucial:  Rep. Fitzpatrick, Rep. Dent, and Rep. Murphy from the Pittsburgh area. If you are a constituent of any of these three, please contact them now.

Talking points are below, and remember personal stories are crucial.

Talking Points

Senator Casey
Senator Toomey
Congressman Dent
Congressman Fitzpatrick
Congressman Murphy

Stop PA from passing the most Restrictive Abortion Bills in the Nation

Two of the most restrictive abortion bills in the nation, SB 3 and HB 77, will be voted on by the House Health Committee. If they pass, Pennsylvania first in the nation in punishing couples facing severe fetal anomalies.

We would like to place as many calls as possible to all of the House Health Committee members. If you happen to be a constituent of one of the representatives be sure to highlight that. If not, you can say: “I am calling because when the Health Committee takes a vote, it represents all Pennsylvanians and I want to add my voice.” Then add one talking point from the attached list.

Talking Points

Health Committee Contacts

Action Alert: Gun Violence Prevention

Please contact your PA State Senator about one good bill, plus one bad proposal that are circulating:

SB 209 – is the bill to close the loophole concerning background checks for long gun private sales. Currently, if a pistol is sold privately, the sale has to go through a background check at a Federally licensed gun store. Long guns can be sold privately without a background check. This bill would simply close that loophole.

  • Long guns have been on the rise for use in committing crimes.
  • The Center for American Progress reported in an article written in 2016 that 43% of the police shootings in PA have been with long guns.
  • Rockne Newell, a mentally imbalanced man used his arsenal of long guns to kill three and wound three at a local governmental meeting in Saylorsville in 2015.
  • This bill has bipartisan support. Senator Killion (R) and Senator Tom McGarrigle (R) are Cosponsors along with 7 Democrats.
  • According to the same 2016 Center for American Progress report, 88% of Pennsylvanians support universal background checks for gun sales.

SB 224 – A bill to eliminate PA’s background check system, PICS (Pennsylvania Instant Check System). The bill claims that it is redundant to have PICS when NICS (the National Background Check System) can serve the same function, and save PA lots of money. We disagree.

  • PICS contains many more records concerning people in PA who should not be able to buy a gun than NICS.
  • PICS does not have the ‘Charleston Loophole.’ The NICS operates under the rule that if a background check is not completed in 3 days, the person who applies gets the gun. In PA, if the background check is not completed, there is no getting the gun until the background check is finished. Dylan Roof of South Carolina had an incomplete background check and obtained his gun before his criminal record was discovered.  He used his gun to kill 9 parishioners at Ebenezer Baptist Church in South Carolina two summers ago.
  • PA State police run our PICS, and keep track of those trying to buy a gun who shouldn’t, and follow through with prosecuting those who try.
  • The true cost of gun violence is staggering. Compared with the savings to PA taxpayers, the money spent on crime investigation, forensics, ambulance, hospital, rehab, loss of job income dwarfs any potential savings – as we contend more gun violence will happen without PICS in place. Mother Jones Magazine did a scientific study of the true cost of gun violence – $224 billion per year. If we take just PA’s percentage of the 50 states, our cost is $4.48 billion per year… dwarfing any savings by dropping PICS.

Find Your Senator

Environmental Justice Team Adopts PA-IPL Policy on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure

As supporters of PA-Interfaith Power and Light (PA-IPL), the UUPLAN Environmental Justice Team voted to adopt the PA-IPL Policy on Fossil Fuel Infrastructure at their February, 2017 meeting.

A Message from the UUPLAN Board President

I was delighted to be appointed as the Chair of UUPLAN at our February Board meeting.  After 10 years, UUPLAN has grown into a vibrant organization working diligently to appropriately thwart or promote legislation in Harrisburg.

Rev. Joan Sabatino

My passion for this work is rooted in my commitment to Unitarian Universalist values.  I believe strongly that our faith’s values are what our state needs to move forward a fair and equitable legislative agenda.  Our values are grounded in human dignity and connection and can lead toward justice and equity, compassion and care for all our residents.

UUPLAN is strong and vibrant.  Our Director, Anita Mentzer, has done a remarkable job guiding our organization and collaborating with others in combined efforts.  We are grateful to the UU Program Fund for continued financial support through generous annual gifts that have kept our treasury viable.  We are grateful to those who have and continue to support our organization with their energy and resources.

But we have a weak link.  There are over 6,000 Unitarian Universalists in PA in 41 congregations.  However, UUPLAN has only 190 individual supporters, and only 22 of our 41 congregations contribute financially to UUPLAN.

In our current political climate, this is a great mystery to me.

UUPLAN has seven active justice teams: Economic Justice, Environmental Justice, Immigration Justice, Reproductive Justice, Anti-Mass Incarceration, Good Government and Gun Violence Prevention.

How can you be involved as a Unitarian Universalist?
•    Visit our website and BECOME A SUPPORTER.
•    Join one of our justice teams: add your voice to the monthly call; encourage members of your congregation to write, call, and prod our elected officials to pass legislation to support our justice initiatives.
•    Volunteer as a UUPLAN liaison for your congregation so all the above can happen in a timely and efficient manner to bring a strong UU voice to the public sphere.

Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to work with you to bend our state toward justice.

Rev. Joan M. Sabatino

New Board Members

UUPLAN is thrilled to announce the addition of three new board members.

Peg Dobrinska has volunteered to be our new Treasurer. She has been a UU

Peg Dobrinska

for twenty-five years beginning her journey in Pottstown and continuing in State College, PA. A social work graduate from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, 1972, Peg knows her initial work as a community organizer began in Girl Scouts in South Dakota. Noting the enormous disparity between funding for Boy Scouts and the Girl Scouts; she proposed that a few weeks a year be set aside at the Boys Camp for the girls. This never came to fruition but did lead to her election as President of the Tri-State Council.

Today she serves as the Social Action chair of her congregation, a Board member of the Homeless Shelter, Prison Society member, and a member of the ReEntry from Prison coalition of Centre County. She also serves on the Centre County Democratic Committee and is a precinct chair. She is a Youth chaperone for Cons, GA and UNO Spring Seminar.

Dennis Brunn

Dennis Brunn is a community social work educator and practitioner.  He served as director of the UUPLAN from 2011-13. He has continued as co-leader and now member of the UUPLAN Immigration Justice Team and as a member of the UUPLAN Board’s Fundraising Committee.

Now retired, Dennis has specialized in training and consulting with those working to improve their neighborhoods and schools through creating or strengthening active, growing grassroots organizations with clear goals.  Since the 1970s, he has helped create in Philadelphia and in New Jersey neighborhood improvement and advocacy organizations with an emphasis on economic justice and on improving urban public schools.  He has taught graduate students in community organizing and development and several universities, including Bryn Mawr, Temple and the University of Pennsylvania

Dennis is an active member of the Unitarian Society of Germantown where he serves on the Social Justice Council.

Stephen Fuegi

Stephen Fuegi has been a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the North Hills for a little less than two years. In that time, he has been very active with the church’s Systemic Change Team and with UUPLAN’s Anti-Mass Incarceration Justice Team. He has attended the Gamaliel Foundation’s National Training Program and has been active with PIIN, the Pittsburgh-area Gamaliel affiliate. A graduate of the University of Pittsburgh and of its School of Law, he is a licensed attorney. He enjoys choral singing, both with his church choir and with the Pittsburgh Concert Chorale.


Thank you to Virginia Kirk and Rev. Dr. Tom Bodie who are both stepping off the board after serving 5 years. Virginia will be joining the Economic Justice Team as co-chair with Mardys Leeper. Rev. Bodie has taken a position as a chaplain in a hospital neo-natal unit in Ohio. We are grateful for their service to UUPLAN and wish them the best in their new ventures.

Rev. Joan Sabatino has been selected as the new UUPLAN Board Chairperson. She has served on the Board for the last three years in the position of Secretary/Treasurer. Rev. Sabatino is the minister of the First Unitarian Church of Indiana, PA.

Congratulations to the Following PA Communitites!

Carlisle Borough became the 35th municipality in PA to pass a non-discrimination ordinance for LGBTQ citizens. Read more…

State College became a Sanctuary City for Immigrants. Read more…

Both communities have active Unitarian Universalist congregations.

Do NOT Defund Planned Parenthood

Tell Speaker Ryan that you’re a part of the overwhelming majority that opposes defunding care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Tell him you’re ready to fight like hell to protect reproductive health and rights in this country. Tell him you stand with Planned Parenthood and expect him to as well.

Letters, petitions and emails are important, but we know that calls have the largest impact and grab lawmakers’ attention. Will you call Speaker Ryan now? CLICK HERE to learn what you need to do.

Protestors Demand that Gov. Wolf Close Down Berks

Berks Vigils Continue

Credit: PICC

On Sunday afternoon, January 15th, 60 people gathered outside the Berks County Residential Center in the chilly afternoon air to bear witness, sing and chant to the mothers and children still detained at the Berks County Center. The vigil was organized by the PA Council of Churches and lead by Rev. Naomi Leaphart, UCC minister.

Approximately 12 UUs representing 3 congregations participated. The mothers claim that the vigils raise the spirits of those detained at the Center and remind them that they are not forgotten. The next Vigil will be on Sunday, February 12 – time to be determined.

UUA, UUSC and UU College of Social Justice Offer Sanctuary Webinars

Credit: Hiro Nishikawa

Wondering what your options might be for effective congregational action in a heightened time of hostility and violence and possible deportations? This webinar will review a range of strategies appropriate for congregations of many sizes and political contexts. Hear inspiring examples of what some UU congregations are already doing and what resources the UUA, UUSC, the UU College of Social Justice and other UU groups have to offer!  Know that often your most effective step will not be to offer physical sanctuary.  Content will cover a range of supportive, organizing and policy advocacy options and preview additional upcoming webinars.

Read More and/or Register Here