We Act on our Beliefs
For centuries, Unitarians and Universalists have been engaged in working for justice. Unitarians and Universalists both believed that all people deserved to live freely, assured of their safety, with options to make their own lives and this world better. We continue this legacy with a deep Congregational commitment to justice, equality, mercy and compassion. Our work for justice takes many forms and addresses many areas from environmental justice to food justice to LGBTQ justice. Our initiatives are spearheaded by congregants passionate about creating peace for all beings on this Earth.
UUCHV, like many UU congregations, takes an offering every Sunday to help support our operating budget. We also give a portion of that money away every Sunday. We call this "Sharing the Plate". Each month, a local organization that works against oppression and inequality is chosen by the Social Justice Committee. The SJC makes sure all organizations chosen are using their donations wisely. Occasionally, someone from the organization will come and speak about the work they do.
Sharing What We Have
Sharing the plate is a meaningful way for us to share what we have with others and to make sure we are putting not only our thoughts, prayers and hands, but also our money, where our mouths are.
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ORGANIZATIONS WE SHARE THE PLATE WITH, PLEASE CHECK OUT THE UUCHV NEWS PAGE
Issues of justice are deeply important to Unitarian Universalists. We recognize that justice takes place on many levels. We must as people of faith treat the symptoms and the underlying causes. At UUCHV, one of the ways we help to treat the symptoms of entrenched inequality is to help make sure that our neighbors have enough to eat. We do this through two programs, a local food pantry and a lunchtime meals program.
For nearly 30 years, the UUCHV has supported the Croton-Cortlandt Food Pantry. Recently relocated to Holy Name of Mary Catholic Church, it has become a choice pantry serving those in the Croton-Cortlandt area. For many of our congregants, bringing an offering to the Food Pantry basket is part of their Sunday morning routine.
Lunchtime Meals Program
Our Congregation volunteers to provide a meal once a month for about 80-100 people living in Peekskill who are food insecure. Several families, committees, Community Circles, and the Board help to prepare this meal. The meal is generally prepared at the church and then delivered to the Salvation Army building where the meal is served. The coordinator of this program welcomes volunteers to cook each month.
Each Winter, our youth participate in a Midnight Run, bringing warm clothes and food to homeless in New York City. Through this program our youth experience what it feels like to not simply "throw money at a problem". They learn, instead, at least a little something about the human dimension of suffering. For more info about Midnight Run checkout our Share the Plate NEWS PAGE about it.
Green Sanctuary Certified
Unitarian Universalism recognizes Climate Change and issues of environmental justice as some of the central concerns of our times. This recognition is grounded in our belief that all life, human, animal, plant, is interdependent. We care for our environment so that it may sustain life for generations to come, an especially important responsibility because those who are most impacted by environmental destruction are often those with the least power. Our Green Sanctuary Subcommittee at UUCHV leads our efforts to affect change in environmental policy on a personal, congregational and public level.
Green Sanctuary Certified
UUCHV is certified by the UUA as a Green Sanctuary Congregation. This means that we have done the work of education and change to be recognized as a congregation committed to environmental justice. We continue our journey as a Green Sanctuary Congregation by continuing to educate ourselves and the public, integrating environmental justice concerns into worship, and introducing ever more green policies within our congregation.
Annual Riverkeeper Sweep: Every year, members of the UUCHV participate in Riverkeeper Sweep, the Hudson River's largest yearly clean-up event. Many tons of garbage are pulled from the Hudson and its banks at this event each year. This event occurs in May.
Adopt a Highway: The UUCHV has adopted a short stretch of Route 9A north and south of our building. The Social Justice Committee renews the permit every two years and organizes a cleanup session after Sunday services a couple of times a year to pick up litter.
Find out more about our ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE EFFORTS
HUMAN RIGHTS & ANIMAL RIGHTS
We Are One Family
The first principle by which all Unitarian Universalists covenant to affirm and promote is “the inherent worth and dignity of every person,” Every person deserves to be able to live life free from the burden of inequality, physical and/or emotional abuse and ostracism.Our UUCHV mission calls each and every one of us “to act for justice” so that our fellow beings receive the understanding, love and acceptance that all persons strive for and deserve. Recently, the UUA has considered amending the first principle to include every living being in our search for justice.
NAMI Support Group
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization with hundreds of local affiliates and support groups. Monthly Connections Support Group for individuals with mental illness and Caregiver support groups available. Register with NAMI at 914-592-5458.
Social Justice Committee Recommendations to the UUCHV Board
- Ethical Banking Initiative
- The UUA Declaration of Conscience - In 2017, the UUCHV Board signed the UUA Declaration of Conscience on behalf of our congregation, per the recommendation of the Social Justice Committee. We joined over 13,000 Unitarian Universalists and other people of faith and conscience to resist hate, fear, and bigotry in the United States after the 2016 US elections.
In the spring of 2017 the Social Justice Committee requested that the UUCHV board consider changing UUCHV's checking account to a smaller bank that invests in the local community. This request was prefaced by proven reports that Wells Fargo (our banking partner at the time) had been unethical in its dealings with its own customers and invested heavily in fossil fuels and pipelines. UUCHV’s checking and savings account is now with a small local bank.
As a Faith, as a Church and as individuals we have acknowledged the American legacy of slavery seen both in the reprehensible behavior of some and the more subtle ways we sustain white supremacy. We had a church wide vote supporting the posting of a banner proclaiming our commitment to the Black Lives Matter movement, had training opportunities and participated in the UUA Common Read to grasp all that was presented in the book, The New Jim Crow by Michelle Alexander. Currently we support and participate in the work of the Peekskill Branch of the NAACP as well as Stand Up for Racial Justice (SURJ) Westchester and the monthly meetings of First Mondays Executives Undoing Racism. We can do much more.
For nearly ten years, the Social Justice and Religious Education programs have worked jointly to provide an educational opportunity for families to raise awareness about the plight of homeless animals. Located in Briarcliff Manor, the SPCA is the only humane society in Westchester County empowered to enforce laws relating to animal cruelty. The SPCA receives no federal, state, or county funds and relies solely on the support of people who care about animal welfare.
A Welcoming Congregation
Welcoming Congregation Certification
For decades the Unitarian Universalist Association and its member congregations have been at the forefront of the fight for justice and equal rights for LGBTQ persons. In 2003, following intensive workshops, movies and discussions, we were certified as a Welcoming Congregation by the Unitarian Universalist Association. A Welcoming Congregation is inclusive of the concerns of bisexual, gay, lesbian and transgender persons in worship, in programs and social occasions, welcoming not only the presence of LGBTQ persons, but also the unique gifts and particularities of their lives. We commit to ensuring that our Congregation is a safe and welcoming place for all people and are committed to widening the circle of our welcoming embrace.
JOIN US AT ONE OF OUR NEXT MEETINGS!
Learn more about the UUCHV Social Justice Committee
For many years our congregation has actively sought ways to support social and environmental justice initiatives and events in our local communities of Ossining, Croton and Peekskill. We are also active in supporting national and global initiatives of other UU related organizations such as the UU Service Committee (UUSC), the UU United Nations Office (UU-UNO) and the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Here are some of the many initiatives supported by our Congregation.
We acknowledge the lifesaving need for blood. We schedule blood drives in our church every 59 days. Blood donors help meet the daily transfusion needs of cancer and surgery patients, accident and burn victims, newborns and mothers delivering babies, AIDS and sickle cell anemia patients, and many more.
Each winter, our youth participate in a Midnight Run, bringing warm clothes and food to homeless in New York City. Through this program our youth experience what it feels like to not simply “throw money at a problem”. They learn, instead, at least a little something about the human dimension of suffering.
Twice a year, the Social Justice committee conducts a collection of shoes in any condition to support Soles4Souls, an organization which distributes lightly worn shoes of any kind and size, and in any condition to underprivileged people throughout the world. Shoes in excellent to good condition are given directly to those in need all over the world, while shoes is poorer conditions are sent to third world countries to support micro businesses that manufacture new shoes from the old, creating both income and employment opportunities as well as shoes to wear.
Croton Interfaith Group, “Women Empowering Women”
We are active in the Croton interfaith group, ‘Women Empowering Women’ which sponsors an annual educational program and project to support women and children suffering from human rights injustices globally. Most recently the focus has been Syrian refugee women and children.
Westchester Refugee Resettlement Task Force
We are an active member of a coalition of local faith-based organizations planning to resettle a refugee family in Ossining. We collaborate with Catholic Charities and the Westchester Refugee Resettlement Task Force.
Share The Plate
Every Sunday an offering is collected to support the ministry of the church with a quarter of the non-pledge offering monies donated to a specific non-profit organization on a monthly basis. Share the Plate is just one way the UUCHV affirms and supports Unitarian Universalist Principles which calls for us to outreach and generously serve our local, as well as our international communities. The SJC makes sure all organizations chosen are using their donations wisely.
Every holiday season, UUCHV members and friends brighten the holidays for neighbors in need. We “adopt” several families from Peekskill as well as several client families at Hope‘s Door domestic violence shelter. They supply us with their holiday wish list, and we help them have a happier holiday by providing new, wrapped gifts. We also donate sweatpants, sweatshirts and socks to the Jan Peek homeless shelter as well as mittens collected at our annual Mitten Tree Day in December run by our youth religious education program.
Croton Lay Interfaith Council (CLIC)
The Croton Lay Interfaith Council is made up of lay people from houses of worship (churches, congregations, synagogues and a Muslim Center). We collaborate by promoting the social justice and community service projects in each congregation by working together on a collaborative effort. This year we are focusing on helping our immigrant neighbors by providing information and resources to assist the undocumented. We also coordinated a bike and sewing machine drive for Pedals for Progress to be sent to Central America. 117 bikes and 16 sewing machines were donated. We also plan, in collaboration with our clergy, an annual Martin Luther King weekend event.
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC)
Our congregation has long supported the UUSC which advances human rights through grassroots collaboration. In more than a dozen countries throughout the world, UUSC fosters social justice and works toward a world free from oppression. The UUSC approach promotes economic justice, bolsters environmental justice, and works anywhere rights are threatened – by natural disasters, armed conflicts, genocide, forced migration, and systematic injustice. We encourage our congregants to become members and support various UUSC programs. Some of interest include:
Guest at Your Table (GAYT) is UUSC’s annual intergenerational program to raise support for and awareness about their work to advance human rights. In 2017 ‘Guests’ included a leader of local efforts to respond to climate change in the South Pacific and a Burmese human rights activist. Our Youth and Adult Religious Education (RE) support this program.
Humanitarian Projects (Fall 2017) include support for economic justice through the UUSC Fair Trade Project, social justice by opposing current anti-immigration policies, and humanitarian aid to address the refugee crisis to save Burma’s Rohingya minority from genocide and deportation.
Environmental Justice and Climate Action Program (EJCA) focus is on advancing and protecting the rights of marginalized populations who are at risk of forced displacement caused by slow-onset climate impacts.
UU United Nations Office (UU-UNO)
Our congregation has been active for many years with the Unitarian Universalist United Nations Office (UU-UNO) which provides strong leadership at the UN on human rights issues. Annual Inter-generational seminars focus on global human rights issues. Members are encouraged to attend these Seminars and/or become an Envoy.