The Advocacy and Witness Team has taken a few minutes to reflect on the highlights of this past year and what we are looking forward to in the year ahead. A number of successes have marked this past year and it is exciting to see what the new year holds. Here are our reflections:
When I think about high points from 2009, the Inauguration glows in my mind. Yes we did! Elect our first African American president. So much hope, so much energy, a real sense of kinship. When I look forward, I commit myself to creating and sustaining more energy like that. It’s so easy to get cynical watching the sausage-making of change. I have to remember to celebrate the positive, as imperfect as it is, and to keep hope alive!
While the international office’s 2009 was full of exciting and inspiring moments, the highlight of the year for me was welcoming a large and multiculturally diverse group of Unitarian, Universalist, and/or Unitarian Universalist leaders from around the world to General Assembly in Salt Lake City. The participation of leaders from Nigeria, Romania, India and Uganda in the Opening Worship service at GA was especially meaningful and symbolic of our faith tradition’s future. And, in 2010, I’m looking forward to the increasing collaboration of UU groups focused on international work, particularly promoting “community capacity building” and leadership-training in multiple locations around the world.
My highlight from this past year was establishing a partnership between UU Ministry for Earth and the UUA that resulted in a staffperson dedicated to promoting environmental justice. Looking forward, I am excited about working with a huge, diverse assortment of religious and secular groups to pass comprehensive immigration reform.
The biggest highlight of the past year for me was attending the signing of the bill legalizing same sex marriage in the District of Columbia, which was held at All Souls Church, Unitarian. In 2010, I am looking forward to organizing clergy and religious leaders to help pass the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and leading youth, young adults and allies in their efforts to advocate for federal support and funding of comprehensive sex education programs in schools.
Rowan Van Ness
Looking back at this past year, one of my highlights was the International Day of Climate Action. It was really inspiring to see how many UUs were involved in the more than 5200 events worldwide. In this year ahead, I am hopeful that we may pass a major piece of climate legislation. The US is still a major emitter and the effects of climate change are global, so changes here could make a positive impact all over the world. I am also excited that more and more people are thinking about the impacts of their food choices and are keeping justice and the environment in mind!
The Standing on the Side of Love campaign was born in June of 2009. It has been an exciting journey that has led us through a visceral health care debate, an inspiring march for BGLT equality, successfully booting Lou Dobbs off CNN, marriage equality sorrows in Maine and joys in the District of Columbia. Local communities are where the campaign has really been brought to life. In the year ahead we will celebrate the first National Standing on the Side of Love Day, where we will re-imagine Valentine’s Day. Because this campaign is in the hands of the people who bring it down to earth on the local level, we will pursue new tactics and new partnerships, and do everything we can to support congregations who boldly stand on the side of love.