Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth

News – April 2017

In this issue:

UUWF Issues Statement on UUA

The United States of America was founded and fostered on many principles, both positive and negative. Two of those principles, spoken and unspoken, are white supremacy and misogyny. They are inextricably linked, along with a host of other identity-based oppressions. As an organization that was born of Women’s Auxiliaries in Unitarian and Universalist congregations, the UU Women’s Federation was created to fight against the subjugation of women. Existing within a greater culture of white supremacy, this sometimes happened at the expense of women of color.

As a board of five white, cisgender women, we know we have work to do. Not just the UU Women’s Federation, not just the Unitarian Universalist Association, but all white Unitarian Universalists must know that we have benefited from first the outright subjugation of people of color, and now the less obvious (but no less painful) pushing away, passing over because ‘you’ don’t ‘fit’ with the team.

Therefore, as the UUWF is committed to justice for women and girls and is an organization that recognizes that white supremacy and patriarchy are deeply intertwined, we support this call to deepen our understanding and hold up a mirror to ourselves and our institutions. We further commit to being an active part of the solution as Unitarian Universalism continues the journey of becoming a fully inclusive and equitable faith community. Indeed it is a moral imperative for groups and institutions to examine the pain we have caused members; not just in the past, but in the present and future.

UUA Presidential Candidates Interviewed

Plenary V UU minister from Phoenix who will organize Phoenix events.. Photo/Nancy PierceIn March, the UUWF Board invited all three candidates for the office of UUA President to talk with us by video conference about issues affecting justice for women and girls. The transcripts of those conversations are on our website:

Join the UUWF Board as VP for Recruitment & Outreach!

The UUWF is accepting applications for a new Vice President of Recruitment and Outreach, to fill the remaining one year of the current term and serve the following three-year term. The position is responsible for recruitment of women for volunteer positions on the board, funding panels, and other committees and task forces. For more information, the job description and application form are available here. Application deadline is May 1.

(Back to top)

Advocacy Actions

The UUWF regularly signs on to letters to Congress and other federal policy makers on the range of issues related to justice and equity for women-identified persons. We do so in coalition, interfaith and secular, with other organizations, and are grateful for the many advocates who do the daily work of monitoring and responding to the many threats and opportunities. Most recently:

We signed a letter January 17, to Congressional leaders, along with more than 130 other groups, “standing united in support of Planned Parenthood and the millions of women, men, and young people who rely on Planned Parenthood health centers every day. We oppose any attempt to block patients from accessing the high-quality, affordable health care that Planned Parenthood provides.”

We co-signed a letter on Feb. 14 asking Congressional leaders to oppose efforts to allow states to exclude providers from receiving Title X National Family Planning Act funds for political/religious reasons. “Title X patients deserve the opportunity to obtain high-quality family planning care from the providers that are best equipped to provide it. As such, we strongly support HHS’s rule reinforcing that grantees must design their provider networks based on the ability to provide care to Title X patients in an effective manner—not based on the political preferences of state lawmakers.”

We co-signed a letter March 9, spearheaded by the Washington Interreligious Staff Community (WISC) in which our minister, Rev Marti Keller, is a member, asking Congress not to “change, repeal, or repair” the Affordable Care Act without including specific elements that would “continue to make progress toward a U.S. health care system that is inclusive, equitable, affordable, accountable, and accessible for all.”

We co-signed a letter to members of the Senate Judiciary Committee charged with the initial vote on Supreme Court nominee Neil Gorsuch, expressing grave concerns about his attitudes towards separation of church and state, and women’s human rights.

The UUWF joined some 300 other organizations the first week in April, in asking our members of Congress to support the Paycheck Fairness Act. This bill (H.R. 1869) would provide effective protection against sex-based discrimination. The wage gap is much wider between white men and women of color than between white men and white women. This is what racial injustice also looks like.

(Back to top)

UUWF Creates Healthcare Meme

In response to a call for faith organization statements to respond to the proposed GOP Health Care Bill which would repeal and replace the existing Affordable Care Act, the UUWF Board trustees composed a statement and had a Facebook meme created to use going forward. It reflects our UU principles and our UUWF mission to secure justice and equity for all women-identified persons. Facebook stats tell us it reached over 1400 people.

We joined many other religious groups, including the Catholic NETWORK Lobby for Social Justice, the National Council for Jewish Women, Bread for the World, the General Board of Church and Society of the United Methodist Church, the Religious Institute, and the Disciples Center for Public Witness, in calling for quality accessible and affordable health care.

General Assembly Programs

Reception: “UUWF/UUWR Breakfast Celebrates 40 Years of Women and Religion”
Thursday, June 22, 2017 at 7:30 p.m.
Hampton Inn & Suites Convention Center – Fulton
Join the UU Women’s Federation and UU Women and Religion for a breakfast celebrating the 40th anniversary of the UUA Women & Religion Resolution. We will enjoy food together and honor the women past and present who have helped bring about change in our movement around gender equity and justice. RSVP requested, but not required. (Photo courtesy of Gloria Marvin)

Program: “Justice for Women and Girls” Sermon Award
Thursday, June 22 at 5:00 p.m.
Convention Center Room 220
We are excited to announce the winner of the 2017 UUWF “Justice for Women and Girls” Sermon Award. Congratulations, Erin J. Walter!
Her sermon “From Eve to Hillary” will be featured at General Assembly, and we’ll invite lively conversation and action on the topics raised.

(Back to top)

UUWR Herstory: Help Us Capture Our Story

In this 40th year since the adoption of the UU Women and Religion Resolution, we are making a special effort to collect and archive our story.

Do you have photos of women who you remember for their contribution to the UU Women’s movement? Do you know women you could ask for photos, stories, or reflections that you could help send to us?

Please send digital copies of photos, stories, and reflections. If you know someone we should contact for their help in this project, please email Julia Harris with the contact information.

W&R Conveners Annual Gathering 1999, held in Murray Grove, NJ and hosted by Metro NY and Joseph Priestley W&R (photo courtesy of Gloria Marvin)

Front, L-R: Barbara Schonborn (Mass Bay), Lucy Swenson-Knights (FL), Rosemary Matson & ila Benavidez-Heaster (PCD), Carol Hosmer (Central MidWest / behind ila)

Rear, L-R: Lois Morrigan & Helen Popenoe (Joseph Priestley), –?–, Elise Krieger (Central Mass), Peg Saintcross (? Central MidWest), Gloria Marvin (FL / behind Rosemary), Laurie James and Janet Mielchen (Metro NY)

(Back to top)

UUWF on the Road

UUWF Board members have been all over the continent in recent months, speaking, preaching, and representing UUWF in various circles. Read below for an account of their travels…

Rev. Beth Dana, VP for Recruitment & Outreach and Gretchen Ohmann, VP for Communications, joined forces at the Southwest UU Women’s Conference in Dallas in mid-February to bring our national UU women’s organizations (UUWF and UU Women & Religion) to this regional gathering. They had great conversations with conference attendees at the exhibit table. They collaborated on a workshop – UUWF: Voices for Justice – highlighting the recent work of the UUWF on behalf of women and girls, and engaging participants in a conversation about how *they* are lifting their voices for justice in their communities. And Beth (on the right in photo) was a worship leader for the weekend, with lots of singing and spiritual sustenance for joining our hearts and hands for justice in this time. (Photo courtesy of Gretchen Ohmann)

Our Affiliated Minister Rev Marti Keller had two opportunities so far this spring to share her UUWF role as advocate for justice and equity for women-identified persons with progressive faith communities.

  • On March 5, she was in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico speaking to the UU fellowship there (celebrating its 40th anniversary this month) about feminist artist Frida Kahlo and leading a program on the status of reproductive justice in the U.S. for a group of social justice focused congregants there.
  • On March 27 and 28, she joined with a group of 40 Humanist clergy and other leaders from UU, Ethical Culture, and the Society for Humanistic Judaism in Washington DC to meet each other and explore ways to work together from this philosophical perspective. Rev Keller facilitated two conversations about the intersection of feminism and humanism. Issues of professional parity within these organizations and continued inequities in the American society at large led to plans to work together on finally passing the ERA and more generous and inclusive family leave policies.

Claire Sexton, VP for Funding Programs and Gretchen Ohmann attended the International Women’s Convocation at Asilomar in Monterey, California in February. They co-led a workshop on UU women’s herstory from the 1977 Women and Religion Resolution to present, and were energized by the enthusiasm attendees showed toward finding out more about UUWF and UUWR and what we do.

Gretchen will be attending the 30th annual UU Womenspirit Gathering in North Carolina in May, and the UU Women’s Connection’s June Retreat near Princeton Illinois.

All your UUWF Board members will be attending General Assembly in New Orleans this June. See the details on our special events elsewhere in this newsletter. Be sure to come by our exhibit booth and talk with us. We’ll be right next door to the UU Women and Religion booth again. Look for The Red Tent!

Leaping From Our Spheres

Rev. Marti KellerDon’t miss the “little gems full of both passion and facts” in the Blog of UUWF’s Affiliated Minister, Rev. Marti Keller.

UUWF’s Affiliated Ministry