Advancing justice for women and girls and promoting their spiritual growth

News – December 2017

Greetings, friends! There’s a lot to tell you this month, so we’ve arranged this issue as a digest, and hope you’ll click the links to read more in-depth on each of these topics.

More than 2,400 Faith Leaders Call on Senators to Oppose Senate Tax Bill: UUWF Signs on

Rev. Marti Keller, Minister, Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation: “Challenging and preventing extreme inequality is a moral imperative for Unitarian Universalists as we affirm justice, equity and compassion in human relations. We are committed to working to change economic systems that perpetuate and worsen income and wealth inequality with a goal of life, dignity and wellbeing experienced by all. This bill does not alleviate, only exacerbate, the disparities. We cannot ignore the harm caused by a lopsided system– which this bill would only further-caused by a tax code that gives control of our country’s financial resources to a very small percentage of people. Women continue to be especially vulnerable to economic inequity, with wage and wealth gaps that preferential provisions for high income corporations and individuals, and unfair Earned Income Tax and Child Tax credits will not repair.” Read More…   Statement in PDF

Denny Davidoff and the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation

The passing of Denny Davidoff on December 7 has sparked outpourings of love and respect for this icon of our UU movement.

In a sermon Denny delivered to the Paris UU Fellowship on April 19, 2015, she recalled her initial role in the Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation (UUWF).

“In the fall of 1971 (as a then member of the Westport Connecticut UU congregation), I was asked to join the search committee that would find the successor to Constance Burgess, the legendary Executive Director who was turning 65. It was the first time I was asked to serve in the larger UU world beyond congregation and district.

“The UUWF of those days had a large staff, occupied a large space—pretty much the entirety of Elliot house behind 25 Beacon Street—and a very large membership made up of Women’s Alliances out of our pre-merger Unitarian structure and the Universalist Women’s groups which were inexplicably called Units. I resisted at first. My father had died suddenly in October and my only brother had succumbed to galloping melanoma five weeks later, leaving two children, a pregnant widow, and my inconsolable mother. Jerry [her husband] pressed me to take advantage of the diversionary aspect of this assignment, so I said ‘yes’.”

Denny served on the UUWF Board from 1973-1985, both as a member and President. She also served on the task force to revision the organization from a membership organization to primarily a grant-giving one, in response to a change in the lives of UU women, who were much less likely to join and participate in traditional daytime church groups. READ MORE ABOUT DENNY DAVIDOFF and UUWF…

Advocacy and Action Round-up

Rev. Marti Keller

Rev. Marti Keller

The Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation’s mission to advance justice for women and girls stirs and guides our involvement in the legislative and other public policy actions we participate in, always in partnership with other faith and secular organizations. The Rev. Marti Keller leads these efforts on behalf of UUWF.

The following are some of the advocacy efforts we participated in recently:

On October 9, UUWF was part of an All Above All coalition letter to Donald Trump asking for a “clean budget,” that is, a fiscal year 2019 federal budget which does not contain language prohibiting abortion coverage and care. “Withholding coverage for abortion care creates profound hardships for people across the country,” we wrote, “particularly for those who already face significant to receiving basic quality healthcare, such as low-income women, immigrant women, young women, women of color, people with disabilities, and transgender and gender-nonconforming people.”

Also in October, along with Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice groups, we signed on to a letter to the acting secretary of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the director of the Office of Refugee Resettlement expressing “grave concerns” over a 17-year-old Jane Doe and other young people in the custody of federal authorities, who are being denied or delayed access to abortion. The letter pointed out that in their journeys to the U.S. border, many of these unaccompanied immigrant youth experience violence in the form of sexual assault and sex trafficking. In fact, human rights advocate that between 60 percent and 80 percent of women and girls are raped on their journey here. Jane Doe was able to secure an abortion.

In late November, under the auspices of the Interreligious Working Group on Domestic Human Needs, we wrote the Senate Majority and Minority leaders in opposition to the Senate version of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, calling on Congress to “put the needs of working families and struggling communities first in creating a just tax system.”

December 5, we joined with other members of the Coalition for Liberty & Justice strongly opposing both the Religious and Moral Exemptions and Accommodations for Coverage of contraception under the Affordable Care Act: “These new regulations greatly expand the scope of the institutions and businesses which could opt out of this coverage based on their faith or principles.

“We support the right of all workers and their dependents to access contraceptive coverage and to make personal decisions about using contraception based on their own beliefs.”

We also filed our own comments with DHHS, saying “over the past five decades, the UUWF has been unwavering in defense of reproductive health care rights and access for women.”

Leadership Transition

The Unitarian Universalist Women’s Federation (UUWF) board of trustees is pleased to announce the appointment of Claire Sexton as our new President. Due to family illness care giving responsibilities, UUWF President Justice Waidner Smith has stepped down. Our thoughts and prayers are with her and her husband Aiden at this difficult time. READ MORE FROM CLAIRE…


Annual Appeal from UUWF

Well, it’s been a year. For the past several months, we’ve seen revelations of men in power being known to harass and assault people who were in thrall to that power. So many emotions have arisen in the midst of these allegations, and unfortunately surprise is not one of them…

It has been some time since we, as Unitarian Universalists, have looked at the issue of violence against women. As women, it is perhaps always on our minds, yet the tide has gone low institutionally since the energy surrounding the 1993 UUA General Assembly resolution on violence against women, after the recommendations of the clergy sexual misconduct task force, funded by the UUWF.

A look at the resolution reminds us that not much has changed in the 24 years since then. The goal of the resolution is as necessary now as it ever was. Now and once again, people have begun to speak out en masse about their abuses and harassment. Now is the time to push our society further and faster toward the end of the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. As Unitarian Universalists, we must continue to break the cycles of oppression within and beyond our denomination.


Did we tell you? Marissa Gutiérrez-Vicario Joins UUWF Board

Please welcome Marissa Gutiérrez-Vicario as UUWF’s new Vice President for Recruitment and Outreach! Marissa says:

I have been involved in the UU community since I was around 15 years old; I first became involved through social justice youth organizing in Pacific SW District. Following that, in 2005, I served as a Youth Ministry Associate for the Youth Office and in 2012, I served as the Welcome / Outreach Coordinator for the UU Congregation in Brookline, MA. For years, I was actively involved with DRUUMM, served as the Youth Observer with the UUSC, and currently serve as a trainer with the UU College of Social Justice. READ MORE ABOUT MARISSA…

UUWF Board Met in Tulsa

Your UUWF Board met recently in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where we gathered one evening to say thank-you and farewell to Justice Waidner Smith. We spent the next 2 days giving our attention to what lies ahead, for the Board and for UU women. We snapped this photo just before we all scattered to the four winds.

(Clockwise from top: Sue Boone, Rev. Marti Keller, Marissa Gutiérrez-Vicario, Gretchen Ohmann, and Claire Sexton)

Looking for a Way to Honor Women?

UUWF’s Clara Barton Sisterhood is a great way to honor women aged 80 or more for their often unsung contributions to your religious community. Learn how to honor a woman in your congregation.

Now available online: “In Sisterhood,” the 1989 publication of the life stories of Clara Barton Sisterhood members. (PDF – large file; may take a while to download)

We’ve been working on a compilation of all the honorees from the beginning of the award in 1979. Unfortunately, we have very little information on the 1990s. If you have any info, please contact us!

Enrolled in 2017

St. Joseph, MI — Gloria Weberg (at left), honored by Red Tent sisters at Berrien UU Fellowship. With Gretchen Ohmann. Racine, WI — Nancy Hennessy, Jeanne Arnold, Frances Scott, and Virginia Burlingame (not pictured), honored by Olympia Brown UU Church. New York, NY — Evelynn Gioiella, Margaret “Fran” Mercer, and Carol Tittle, honored by the Women’s Alliance of All Souls Unitarian Church. With Sr. Minister Rev. Galen Guengerich

From One of Our Partners

SisterSong launched the “Collective Voices” webinar series to bring together groundbreaking and innovative leaders to share lessons and discuss programs that are making a difference…

Please, join SisterSong on Monday, December 18th from 12:00-2:00pm EST for “Advancing Global Reproductive Justice” featuring Monica Simpson (SisterSong), Twanna Hines (Center for Health and Gender Equity), Suzannah Phillips (Women Enabled), Diana Carolina Moreno (Center for Reproductive Rights), Sahar Moazami (Outright Action International), Betty Odallo (Center for Reproductive Rights), Leticia Zenevich (Women on the Waves), Sarah Lynch (CARE), Erin Williams (International Women’s Health Coalition).  READ MORE AND REGISTER…

New Archive Publications Are Available

“A Wider Horizon: UU Women with a Vision” was originally printed in 1985. You can read A Wider Horizon online or purchase one or multiple copies on the UUWR website.

From the Introduction:

Our Unitarian-Universalist heritage includes the contributions of many women of firm conviction and strong character. With determination and tact, these self-reliant women accomplished personal and social goals against all odds.

They boldly entered college and started careers, not a usual thing to do in the early 1800s. They took active roles in the social concerns of their day and worked steadfastly toward more equal opportunities for women. At the same time, they valued home and family. Their fortitude has opened doors to fuller lives for women at home and in the community.

… Sharing these stories can move us toward a more balanced view of human experience. Supported by the framework of a liberal religious faith, women then and now dare to initiate, dare to state their vision, and dare to serve.

UU Women and Religion Calendar of UU Women’s Gatherings

SWUUW Conference in Austin TX
23 Feb 2018
Pacific Central WR Retreat in Novato, CA
08 Mar 2018
Florida UU Women’s Retreat
13 Apr 2018
UUWomenspirit at The Mountain, NC
16 May 2018
UU Women’s Connection Retreat – Pilgrim Park IL
01 Jun 2018

New in the UUWR Store

“As the River We Flow,” Women’s Drumming Circle of First Unitarian Church of South Bend Indiana drumming and chant CD

This UUW&R Exclusive is now available for DOWNLOAD! $12  /  Audio CD $15

Happy Holidays from your UUWF Board!

Tune in next month for news of Marjorie Bowens-Wheatley Scholarship recipients, Sermon Contest, HEResies UU women’s herstory archive, and plans for General Assembly 2018!

Winter Solstice by Melinda Perrin

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