On Feb. 13th, Standing on the Side of Love honored Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and Westside Unitarian Universalist Church in Knoxville for their courageous love, which burned bright long before the shooting in 2008, and will burn bright for a long time to come.
This video was created by local artist Bobby Clark, a member of TVUUC.
Says Mr. Clark:
On July 27, 2008, a gunman walked into the sanctuary of Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church during a children’s play, and opened fire on the congregation. Two people were killed and five others injured.
I attend this church, and have many friends there, and at the time I organized a music compilation entitled “Everyone Welcome”, with contributions from my music friends from across the Synthpop Universe who lent their support to those affected by this senseless tragedy.
The song here is one of those which featured on this compilation, “Patience Waiting”, by the Chicago synthpop artist Haberdashery. This video is dedicated to the memory of Greg McKendry and Linda Kraeger, and to greater understanding and tolerance, that this sort of tragedy may never happen again.
On February 13, 2011, Family Promise of Knoxville helped SSL honor Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church and the Westside Unitarian Universalist Church by assisting in the presentation of Courageous Love awards to both congregations. The presentation was a part of a Forum that featured Dan Furmansky, SSL National Campaign Manager.
In the afternoon, Tennessee Valley Unitarian Universalist Church sponsored “Spiritual Approaches to Polarized Politics,” a public interfaith forum as part of its Valentine observance of national Standing on the Side of Love Day. As a part of that event, Tennessee Valley UUC presented Family Promise of Knoxville with a check for $11,816.80 in honor of Greg McKendry who was killed in the July 27, 2008 shooting at the church that inspired the SSL National Campaign.
Both Tennessee Valley UUC and Westside UUC support the Family Promise of Knoxville organization, whose primary goal is to help situationally homeless families successfully transition back into permanent housing and maintain self-sufficiency. The program depends on the compassionate spirit of the community to be successful.
Family Promise of Knoxville works with 42 interfaith and community organizations to help meet the needs of families with children who have lost their homes. The support of these groups is vital to the success of the Family Promise program. Fifteen of the organizations open their facilities to provide shelter to families in need. For a week at a time, about once a quarter, each of these host sites (including both TVUUC and Westside UUC) convert empty classrooms into bedrooms for guests of the program. With the additional help of 27 support organizations, volunteers provide three meals a day, fellowship and act as overnight hosts.
Since most government homeless programs are for the chronic homeless, Family Promise of Knoxville receives very little support from those programs and must rely on their congregational and public donations for support.
If you would like to learn more about Family Promise of Knoxville or would like to donate to the program, please visit their web site at http://www.familypromiseknoxville.org/.
On Feb 10th immigrant women, women’s advocates, clergy, and legislators came together in Washington, DC to bear witness to the hardships and injustice inflicted by our broken immigration system on undocumented women and their families. Unitarian Universalist ministers Rev. Linda Olson Peebles and Rev. Carlton Eliott Smith of the UU Church of Arlington, VA participated in the advocacy exchange, gave testimony at an ad hoc hearing on Congressional Hearing moderated by Rep Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), and accompanied an interfaith delegation to the Department of Homeland Security to witness to the human impact of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s policies known as ICE ACCESS (Agreements of Cooperation in Communities to Enhance Safety and Security). The delegation represented national religious organizations who delivered a letter from their leadership asking that the Administration use its executive powers to halt policies that divide families, criminalize immigrant communities, and cause women and children to endure domestic abuse because of fear of deportation.
Women are particularly hard hit by the consequences of immigration enforcement-only policies. For example, undocumented women who are being physically abused cannot report their abusers for fear of being deported and possibly separated from their children. These policies are literally deporting parents away from their children, breaking up families and disrupting communities.
To address the domestic abuse and other forms of violence inflicted on immigrant women, the National Day Laborers Association (NDLON), National Domestic Workers Alliance, and the AFL-CIO organized an Advocacy Exchange for national and grassroots organizations working on immigration reform and domestic violence. Participating groups agreed on the necessity of working more closely together to lift up the connections between immigration, women’s issues and labor. The Exchange ended with plans to support the “Turning the Tide” campaign conference at the end of May (more information to follow).
In the afternoon, the congressional hearing on the consequences of ICE ACCESS programs on women and children was packed to overflowing. Juana Flores (CASA Maryland) who came to the U.S. from Mexico spoke about her personal experiences with domestic abuse. Rev. Linda Olson Peebles ( UU Church of Arlington, VA) told the story of an undocumented woman who won’t seek medical treatment for the bruises and broken bones caused by her abusive husband for fear of deportation. And the story of a woman named Maria, who had called police to report her abusive partner only to be arrested herself on suspicion of selling phone cards, was read to the packed room. Though the charges against Maria were unsubstantiated, ICE’s “secure communities” program checks for immigration status even when charges are dropped. As a result Maria is in deportation proceedings, and is fearful that her two year old daughter will grow up without either parent.
It was these stories that the interfaith delegation took to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Led by the Standing on the Side of Love campaign (SSL), we met with the DHS representatives and delivered the SSL letter signed by two dozen faith-based organizations and denominations and nearly 400 clergy members. The letter calls on the Obama Administration to halt the ICE ACCESS inhumane immigration enforcement policies that are tearing apart families and communities. Our interfaith group was led by Taquiena Boston, Director of the Washington Center of the UUA, and included representatives from United Methodist Church, United Church of Christ, Church World Service, Franciscan Action Network, and Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, as well as Unitarian Universalist Rev. Linda Olson Peebles and Rev. Carlton Elliot Smith, both of Virginia, and Fr. Jacek Orzechowski, OFM, of Maryland.
The delivery of this letter is just the first step in opening dialogue with the Obama Administration about the immorality of escalating enforcement-only policies in the absence of humane immigration reform that keeps families together. All the denominations/organizations present agreed that bearing witness to the harmful effects of these ICE ACCESS programs will be a high priority until they are ended.More >
Zach Wahls, pictured left testifying before the Iowa State Legislature, is an engineering student at the University of Iowa. He celebrated the marriage of his two moms in 2009.
The message below went out to Standing on the Side of Love supporters on Thursday, February 10, 2011. You can sign-up for these emails here.
Two weeks ago, I took a stand for equality, and for my family. Taking time away from classes at the University of Iowa, where I am an engineering student, I testified before the Iowa House of Representatives in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage. “I was raised by a gay couple,” I told lawmakers, “and I’m doing pretty well.”
More than one and a half million people have now viewed my testimony on YouTube, and a lot of people have heaped an inordinately large amount of undeserved praise on me. As a Unitarian Universalist, my testimony was simply what I was raised to believe – that we all should stand on the side of love.
A few days ago, I found out that the Standing on the Side of Love campaign was launching a new, online map of “courageous love” to mark National Standing on the Side of Love Day and had posted my testimony before the legislature to the map. I am humbled that someone thought my family’s story might be an inspiration to others across the country and have been truly touched by the outpouring of support not just for my family, but for families like mine all across the world.
So, let me ask you — who in your life and your community would you like to honor for the tremendous ways in which they stand on the side of love?
The courageous love I want to honor is that of my two moms – Terry and Jackie. Together for 15 years, they created a loving family for my sister and me, despite living in a culture that doesn’t always treat them, or their love, as equal. In 2009, the year marriage discrimination ended in Iowa, they finally were able to get married. As my moms’ best man, I’ll remember that day for the rest of my life. Two years later, I had the opportunity to share my story and to my utter surprise, millions of people responded. I hope you’ll share yours too.
This National Standing on the Side of Love Day, you can shine the spotlight on the courageous love in your life by telling your online community about people you know who exemplify an unshakeable faith in the power of justice and love.More >
-Md Sen. James Brochin, announcing today his support of marriage equality. Sen. Brochin said while he had previously been willing to support civil unions between gay couples, the word “marriage” had been a “stumbling block.”