On Covenant

We are so thrilled to announce that a few weeks ago Rev. Elizabeth Nguyen joined Standing on the Side of Love as our Spiritual Sustenance Advisor. In her role, Elizabeth brings passion around how theology and spirituality fortify intersectional organizing and she continues work with Youth and Young Adults of Color in the YaYA Office. 

We’re starting off our work with a conversation between Elizabeth and Nora Rasman talking about covenant - knowing that within UU communities, we are really grappling with the limitations and gifts of covenant and we are simultaneously excited about what covenant can offer to organizing work. 

“Covenant is resonant for some – not all of us. Guidelines...are tools – and like any tool can be used to build or tear down. In practicing these guidelines, we’re encouraging you to use them to create space rather than shut down others." - Rev. Alicia Forde

Rise Up May 1st - National Day of Action & Resistance

On May 1st members of immigrant, refugee, Muslim, Black and Brown, indigenous, LGBTQ communities, workers, women, environmental justice activists, and all who support a vibrant and diverse future for our country will Rise Up because interdependence means that none of us are free until we are all free. 

We’re coming together across the country in 100 cities to resist the current administration’s deportation machine, it’s ‘law and order’ agenda, and the scapegoating and criminalization of whole communities.  We’ll take collective action for collective liberation and against policies that threaten our planet and our collective well-being.

Will you join us?

Onward from here

Recent weeks have included important and necessary conversations within Unitarian Universalism about the ways white supremacy has and continues to show up within our faith tradition. We are neither unique nor absolved from doing the hard and urgent work within our faith community to transform into the spiritual home we aspire to.

Courageous leadership from women of color like Christina Rivera and Aisha Hauser have brought us to an important next step on our journey. A time that mandates exploration, navigation and transformation to grapple with the ways white supremacy continues to be perpetuated by our institutions like the UUA. Black Lives of UU wrote a statement on UU & UUA power structures and hiring practices we highly recommend you review.

We know that wherever we are - geographically and politically - our congregations are navigating the waters of white supremacy. We have an opportunity to look at our own congregations and organizations to understand our internal cultural and institutional practices while assessing our social location in relationship to our wider communities. Disrupting such systems requires similar vigilance - relentless, unapologetic and rooted in the visions of liberation we are building towards. Religious educators Aisha Hauser, Christina Rivera and Kenny Wiley, in collaboration with Black Lives of UU, have invited congregations across the country to dedicate their programming on April 30 or May 7 to a #UUWhiteSupremacyTeachIn. Our faith tells us that our goodness has already been established. Our task, then, is to live up to that inherent goodness.

Some News and Appreciation

What a time we are living in. I keep saying to myself that this moment is the opportunity of a lifetime for me (as a white progressive) to be the person I say I am. I know that I am not alone in my discernment in this moment, as so many of us struggle to lead, follow and engage. I think we are struggling because we want to be able to look back at this time and feel that we were people of integrity, even in a time when it can be terrifying to be such people.

I want to let you know that I have decided to step down as the Standing on the Side of Love Campaign Director. I am taking a position as Vice President of Movement Leadership at Auburn Seminary to be able to do multi-faith and national movement building work. What I really want to say is thank you. Thank you so much to all of you who have found our recent work as Standing on the Side of Love helpful in your work for justice. I am glad that many of you have appreciated the tools, or found them heartening. But, I am most proud that our work has been of use. 

As Solidarity with Standing Rock Continues, We Need You

As Solidarity with Standing Rock Continues, We Need You

Back in September, MUUSJA: The Minnesota Unitarian Universalist Social Justice Alliance invited the Rev. Karen Van Fossan, minister to the Unitarian Universalist Church & Fellowship of Bismarck/Mandan (UUFCBM), to join us for our monthly statewide Convening Call to speak about the ongoing battle against the Dakota Access Pipeline at Standing Rock. At that time, the UU congregation of 60 members and one half-time minister--one of only three in North Dakota, and the only one with professional clergy - had already been building deep relationships with the Water Protectors since April. Rev. Van Fossan spoke of her people’s deep sense of calling in this work of service, followership, and solidarity. At that point they were already offering concrete solidarity by hosting travelers, serving as a through-point for supply donations, and taking a bold public stance with the #NoDAPL movement in a region in which virtually no other religious group would risk speaking out for indigenous people, or the earth that stood to be harmed by the pipeline.  Standing Rock was only beginning to get national media coverage at that point, and the story of our UU kin showing up in such a faithful, prophetic way inspired all of us in Minnesota.

Shortly following that Convening Call, Rev. Van Fossan and I spoke again about what a broader, nation-wide UU response to Standing Rock might look like--and how we, as a religious people, might better support the congregation in sustaining their faithful support of the Water Protectors as representatives of our entire faith.  More conversations followed, with representatives from the UUA, MidAmerica Region, Standing on the Side of Love, the UU College of Social Justice, and others.  As a result of these collaborations, a broad network of UUs from a wide variety of our organizations and congregations mobilized a nimble, accountable rapid response to directly support the Bismarck congregation, and the Water Protectors. Together, by leveraging our relationships and our institutional resources, we supported hundreds of Unitarian Universalist clergy and lay people traveling to North Dakota to attend nationwide calls for physical presence at the camps.  We schemed together to get the “Interfaith Living yUUrt” transported from Minnesota to Oceti Sakowin camp, and made that space available to both indigenous folks and people of faith who needed a place to stay.  We raised funds to support Rev. Van Fossan’s ministry, and the work of the congregation.  And when the needs shifted and the weather changed, we created the Ministry in Residence Program, sending a series of Unitarian Universalist clergypeople for a week at a time to be with Rev. Van Fossan and the UUs in Bismarck, adding to their capacity and representing our solidarity in an embodied way.