The Blog

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.

Casey Questions Cabinet Nominations

Call Senator Casey to say thank-you! (202)224-6324

Senator Casey has declared that the nomination of Scott Pruitt as head of EPA is “very troubling” and does not have “confidence, based upon Attorney General Pruitt’s record, that the EPA under his leadership would be willing to enforce our environmental laws.”

The Senator also has “significant concerns regarding U.S. Senator Jeff Sessions’ nomination to serve as Attorney General. I am deeply troubled by his record on voting rights and Session’s vote against a non-binding amendment simply expressing the sense of the Senate that immigrants should not be banned from this country based on their religion is offensive.”

To find the number of a local office near you, Link Here and click on the city closest to you.

Water for Life

A few weeks ago, our own Pennsylvania UU minister, Rev. Scott Rudolph, journeyed to South Dakota where thousands of people were protesting the Dakota Access pipeline construction regarding its necessity and the potential impact on the environment  especially the water supply of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.” An oil spill at this site would constitute an existential threat to the Tribe’s culture and way of life.” Read Rev. Rudolph’s account of his experience to bear witness to this environmental justice movement.

Here in Pennsylvania, UUs are bearing witness to another environmental justice threat. Over 50 families in The Woodlands, Connoquenessing Township, Butler County PA are living with water wells fouled by fracking. For over five years, they have relied on a “water bank” to supply their households with clean water.

Water Bank for The Woodlands Community in Butler, PA

Clean Water for The Woodlands campaign will raise awareness throughout the interfaith community of the dangers of fracking while providing much-needed financial support to volunteer efforts in the Woodlands in Butler County to supply the affected families with clean water.

Listen to the stories of Woodland Families.

Funds collected during this campaign will be matched up to $2,500.00! One hundred percent of the money raised will go toward the purchase of water for the Woodlands Community. Please give generously.

DONATE HERE

Standing Down is Not an Option

Do something different this year. Hold a New Year’s Eve Watch-Night party and join the live-stream National Moral Revival Poor People’s Campaign Social Justice Night Watch Service in the Nation’s Capitol with the Rev. Dr. William Barber.

We are calling on people of conscious to make a moral decision to enlist in the fight against systemic racism, poverty, child poverty, extremism, denial of healthcare, voter suppression, environmental injustice, xenophobia, unchecked militarism,homophobia, transphobia, and the injustice of our current moment in history.

Coming Soon: Clean Water for Woodlands

In January, UUPLAN along with our multi-faith partners will launch a Faithify project to provide a 5-month supply of clean water for 52 families in the Woodlands, Butler County. The well-water in this community has been compromised since hydraulic fracturing (fracking) began in their neighborhood over 5 years ago. Stay tuned for how you can help to show decision-makers in Harrisburg that Pennsylvania’s faith community is mobilizing to advocate for communities like the Woodlands.

Divestment Request to PSERS

Take action today on a critical issue.

An increasing number of retirement plans in the United States and across the world are divesting from fossil fuels and doing so profitably. In fact, a portfolio heavily reliant on fossil fuels is not financially sound. You may recall that in June of 2014, at the UUA General Assembly, the UUA voted to divest their holdings from fossil fuels. If you are a Pennsylvania public school educator, paraprofessional or intermediate unit employee, read below:

We know that an overwhelming majority of climate scientists agree that continuing to burn fossil fuels is putting our planet’s future in peril unless we act decisively.  But, are you aware that 29 of the top 32 holdings in Public School Employees’ Retirement System, the pension fund for public school educators, are with fossil fuel companies? One of them, Energy Transfer Partners, has been cited for brutal treatment of Standing Rock Sioux members protecting sacred burial grounds and local water supplies from the proposed Dakota Access Pipeline.  In Pennsylvania, Energy Transfer Partners and other companies are involved in massive pipeline build-outs to move gas to shipping ports.

Please join me and fellow educators and retirees in taking 3 decisive steps:

  • Sign the online petition, https://bitly.com/PSERSDIVEST, demanding that PSERS begins to divest from fossil fuels.
  • Forward this e-mail and attached petition to all educators you know who are members of PSERS.
  • Share the petition on Facebook or whatever form of social media you use.

We will deliver this letter, with the list of supportive current and retired educators, at the next PSERS board meeting on December 7.

Not only is this a financial issue, but it is a moral issue as well.   Our actions now will impact our children today and all future generations.

Thank you for taking action.

Report from the UUPLAN Annual Meeting 2016

On the evening of November 11th , 79 UUs from 21 congregations throughout the state, gathered at the Unitarian Church of Harrisburg (UCH) for our Annual Meeting. We all enjoyed a soup and salad bar supper where registrants renewed old friendships and made new acquaintances with UUs from around the state who are committed to social justice. The evening program featured Rev. David Pyle from the Central East Region who conducted a workshop on how to fortify ourselves for the challenging work in the months ahead with the “Practice of Bearing Witness.”

On Saturday morning, we re-convened for a continental breakfast and an opportunity to network with fellow UUs before the work of the day. A welcome message was provided by Rev. Michael Walker, interim minister at UCH, followed by greetings from the UUPLAN Board Co-chairs, Virginia Kirk and Rev. Tom Bodie. Rev. Joan Sabatino, Board Treasurer provided a brief financial outlook with the message that as an organization, we must become self-sustaining. In our current Pennsylvania political climate, it will be even more important to bring our UU values to light in the public square but we all need to step up to fund our organization.  The 21 congregations in attendance along with the justice team leaders were recognized.

Rev. David Pyle provided the Keynote, A Vision for Justice Ministries. “It matters not only that our congregations are engaged in matters of justice, but that they are engaged well. It is no longer enough just to be present. Our world needs our congregations to be effective, savvy, boundaried, awake, and aware partners in the work of building a more just world.”

The breakout workshop sessions completed the morning:

  • Congregational Transformation through Intercultural and Multi-Cultural Competency – Rev. David Pyle
  • Citizen’s Advocacy Training: Making Government Work for You – Sen. Art Haywood, 4th District
  • Citizens’ Climate Lobby – A Sensible, Effective Response to Climate Change by Michael Mark
  • Updating PA’s Elections – Barbara Grimaldi and Michael Roles of Keystone Votes

During lunch we honored the work of two of our UUPLAN members: Nancy Anderson, Unitarian Society of Germantown, who is stepping down after successfully launching and co-chairing the Anti-Mass Incarceration Team for three years and Kennie Harr, who has been working diligently to organize her Wyoming Valley congregation and the wider community to increase the minimum wage. We are deeply grateful for the committed efforts of both of these members.

Six of our Justice Teams met during the afternoon to plan for 2017 – which begins a new session in our state government. Currently our LGBTQ Team is on hiatus; however, if we find that nondiscrimination legislation is moving once again in Pennsylvania, we will re-activate. To learn more about the 2017 goals and to join the justice team monthly calls on ZOOM, check out this link to our schedule.

This year at the UUA General Assembly, the Congregational Study Action Issue that was adopted is The Corruption of Our Democracy. In response, Tom Ulrich, UU Church of the Lehigh Valley, surveyed the meeting attendees to consider the merits of creating a new UUPLAN Good Government Justice Team to explore the areas of gerrymandering, voter participation, securing the vote, public financing of elections and strengthening ethical behavior in government.  Look for more information in future UUPLAN e-newsletters on the possibility of a new justice team.

We had a packed schedule and were offered many choices to improve our stamina, skills and expertise as citizen advocates. But the overriding praise for the meeting is the opportunity to network with fellow UUs involved in our social justice work. The afternoon send-off was a presentation by Michael and Rachel Mark, members of UCH. They created a PowerPoint presentation of photos, set to the music of Stand by Amy Carol Web of many UUPLAN members at rallies, direct actions, legislative visits and doing the work of social justice in Pennsylvania.

Note: You must download the Slideshow and the Music and place in a folder in order for the music to accompany the presentation.

 

Join us for a National Moral Day of Action in Harrisburg

If you attended GA this summer, you are aware that one of the outstanding speakers this year was the Rev. Dr. William Barber II, the architect of Forward Together Moral Mondays in NC. His message: we need to join all of our advocacy groups into a “fusion coalition” and educate our legislators about their moral responsibility to  for the public good.

Join us on Monday, Sept. 12, 2016 in Harrisburg, as people of faith and other coalitions convene at 35 state capitols around the country to proclaim a Moral Declaration.  We will gather and march in solidarity with coalitions from around Pennsylvania to present a Moral Declaration to our Governor and key legislators.

Buses from Pittsburgh and Philadelphia will be gathering folks from many organizations across the state to deliver participants to our Capitol city. There will be songs, speakers, marching and public witness.

We need to have a large UU turnout. We want to see lots of yellow shirts!

Registration and bus tickets for Pittsburgh and Western PA CLICK HERE.

Registration and bus tickets for Philadelphia, Allentown and Reading CLICK HERE.

REGISTER HERE – even if you are not traveling on a bus.

Read more about the SCHEDULE for the day.

For more Information: 267-314-7987

If you are driving, the South Street Garage is the closest to the Capitol.

We will meet up at 10:00 AM at Grace United Methodist Church on  216 State St, Harrisburg, PA 17101

Read the Higher Ground Moral Declaration Here

Sign the Higher Ground Moral Declaration Here

 

Marching for Justice at the DNC

The Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia provided many opportunities for UUs to speak truth to power.

Climate Action Now

DNC March 2016

On Sunday, July 24th as the delegates arrived, nearly 10,000 people participated in the March for a Clean Energy Revolution before the start of the Convention. Present were UUPLAN members from Sunnyhill, Ginger Hill, Harrisburg, Mainline, First U Philadelphia, the Poconos and Wellsprings as well as UUs from NJ, MD and NY who joined climate activists to march with the “faith contingent.”

Prior to the March, a number of UUPLAN members attended the Clean Energy Summit at Friends Center for updates on the PA Clean Power Plan, health impacts, methane,

From left: Susan Norris, Ralph Detrick, Joyce Stoltzfus, Rachel Mark, moi, left: Susan Norris, Ralph Detrick, Joyce Stoltzfus, Rachel Mark, Anita Mentzer, Natalie Gehosky

From left: Susan Norris, Ralph Detrick, Joyce Stoltzfus, Rachel Mark, Anita Mentzer, Natalie Gehosky

nuclear energy, TPP, environmental justice, the faith community’s role and practical solutions available now to make the transition away from fossil fuels. The bottom-line message: climate change needs immediate action.  The world needs to be carbon neutral by 2040; the USA, and notably Pennsylvania, need to move faster than countries who are energy poor.  The Summit was remarkable for the sense of urgency and the shared commitment among 300 participants.

What does faith have to do with it? Unitarian minister, Rev. Alison Cornish, Executive Director of PA-Interfaith Power and Light said: “Faith communities are unique – we speak to the beauty and integrity of the world, and we speak with moral authority.  People of faith are truth seekers and must be truth speakers.”

Black Lives Matter

Credit: Adam Zolkover

Credit: Adam Zolkover

While the Climate March proceeded, UUPLAN members and others from the Unitarian Society of Germantown and the UU Church of Delaware County staged a rally in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Alltogether, there were 40 USG members, 30 from other UU churches, and about a dozen

Credit: Adam Zolkover

From left: Jondai Harrel, Executive Director of The Center for Returning Citizens, Rev. Kent Matties, Unitarian Society of Germantown. Credit: Adam Zolkover

community members. They gathered in Constitution Park and at Independence Hall – the perfect setting for their message: this movement is simply demanding the fairness and justice the Black community deserves. Wristbands with the message “Black Lives Matter” were distributed and we engaged with passers-by to share our concerns. As UUs, we believe that our principle stating the inherent worth and dignity of every person must apply to people of color. Because Black people have been historically marginalized, devalued, oppressed, discriminated against and extinguished, they deserve justice, equity and compassion.  We have created a society where fear is a daily experience for Black people and law enforcement must be trained in de-escalation and bias awareness. We are in this together and we need to do all we can to make a better world. So let us stay in it and Stand on the Side of Love.

Immigration Justice

On Monday, immigrants from around the country were joined by our Berks County, Unitarian Society of Germantown and Mainline UUs as they marched to the Wells Fargo Convention Center to voice their support for immediate immigration reform. “We must stop separating families with deportations and DNC March 2016-3close down the Berks County Residential Center” which detains mothers and children who are seeking asylum. The center has been operating without a license from the Commonwealth since February of this year, and immigration advocates are fighting for it to close and for the families to be released. The march was led by Juntos, the #Not1More Campaign, the Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights, Congress of Day Laborers and others. UUSC has called on all UUs to join the Standing on the Side of Love campaign, fortify the movement and use the power of love to stop oppression.

Get Out The Vote 2016

Pennsylvania is a critical state in the coming presidential election.

Please consider making a commitment to work on Voter Registration given the urgency of this election year. Sept. 27, 2016 is National Register to Vote Day. Partner with others or create a plan in our own congregations to staff voter registration tables at shopping centers, other public places or events.

The UUA is offering grants of $500 to groups who wish support in doing this. Details on Getting Out The Vote Grants for voter registration are available for any congregations who plan to work on this. Consider partnering with the NAACP or the League of Women Voters.

Link to the Grant application HERE (it is very easy to complete – just 3 pages long with three questions). Encourage your social justice teams to apply.  Applications must be submitted by November 1, 2016.