Just Acts: A New Day for Side with Love + A Final Just Acts - Archived

Just Acts: A New Day for Side with Love + A Final Just Acts
Dear UU Justicemakers,

You may have seen the message below about how we are reorganizing our UUA Organizing Strategy Team as the Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team. Side with Love encompasses the approach we UUs have to all our justice work. And so, we will be folding our Just Acts newsletter into our Side with Love alerts. You will still receive all the news that I share in Just Acts, and hopefully you will find this makes it easier to track UU justice campaigns, resources, and more, and it will be easier on your ‘inbox.’

If you wish to unsubscribe from Side With Love, you can do so here. To learn about our other newsletters, you can do so here. Join me to learn more about our Side with Love approach at our GA workshop on “Harvesting Lessons, Planting Seeds: Reflections on Organizing, 2016-2021” on Thursday, June 24, 5:00-6:30pm ET/2:00-3:30pm PT. And check out our General Assembly offerings here.

I also have some personal work news to share. After General Assembly I will be on sabbatical for the month of July. When I return in August I will be working three days a week for the next fiscal year and then, after having served the UUA for 30 years at that point, I am going to retire after GA 2022. (So please come to GA 2022 in Portland, Oregon, so that we can see each on the ground!)

We have built a tremendous Side with Love team here at the UUA and I am looking forward to strengthening and contributing to this team’s work through the next year. You will still hear from me from time to time through Side with Love and I will be here to support your efforts and help you connect with our team members. Working with you, our beloved UU congregational and organizational leaders, activists, and organizers has been and remains the best part of my job.

In faith and love,


Susan Leslie
Coalitions & Partnerships Organizer | Side with Love Organizing Strategy Team
Phone (617) 948-4607 Cell (617) 272-5386
www.uua.org/justice * www.uuthevote.org

Our work is made possible by congregations’ generous gifts to the Annual Program Fund and individual friends like you. Please consider making a gift today!

Greetings Beloveds!

Unitarian Universalists are often called “the Love People” by our communities who see us out working for justice. From hosting free weddings for LGBTQIA+ people before marriage equality was the law of the land, to taking to the streets as part of the global Climate Strikes, to opening our sanctuaries to protesters fleeing state violence, to organizing with coalition partners to shut down immigration detention facilities, “the Love People” have been showing up for years to embody our values, take courageous action, and build together as a part of broader movements for justice and liberation.

Sometimes, Unitarian Universalists have shown up holding our congregational banners. Other times, it’s been at the call of joint UU campaigns like Love Resists or Create Climate Justice. And sometimes, we’ve rallied together through efforts like UU the Vote, or in our yellow shirts as a part of Side With Love.

For some UUs, however, it has been confusing to try to understand the relationship between these many different justice campaigns and programs. Too often, the existence of these many “brands” has made the work seem disjointed, or even that issues are in competition with one another for resources and attention. And as a result, we have not always been as aligned, coordinated, or powerful as we could be.

One thing is clear: the world needs Unitarian Universalists
to show up for justice
with spiritual grounding, generosity,
humility, courage, and concrete skills.

At various moments, we may be asked to bring these resources to particular struggles–pushing for electoral justice and voting rights, combating criminalization, working for LGBTQIA+ liberation, resisting climate catastrophe–but fundamentally, these are all facets of our shared work for collective liberation.

Since its inception, the Side With Love campaign in particular has articulated one of Unitarian Universalism’s most cherished values: that it is a spiritual practice to choose love over fear. The beauty and the power of Side With Love has always been that invitation to be brave, to show up when we’re called, to occupy space with loving resistance rather than fearful retreat. We are most powerful when we understand that all the issues we care most deeply about are fundamentally interlinked, and that each of us has a role to play in building a world in which all people can be free and thrive. When we bring our best selves to our justice work, whichever specific issue or campaign it might be, we are choosing to Side With Love.

And so, going forward, we are proud to announce that all of the UUA’s justice work will be housed under the Side With Love banner, through which we will continue to offer UUs regular opportunities for political education, spiritual sustenance, skills-based trainings, and mobilizations for action. We will be explicitly building on the infrastructure, organizing experience, relationships, and momentum we developed in 2020 through UU the Vote. In that vein, we will also invite UUs into specific work on issue-based campaigns from time to time: Side With Love will be encouraging people to #UUtheVote in 2022; to #CreateClimateJustice in partnership with the UU Ministry for Earth; and to declare that #LoveResists criminalization, along with our beloved partners at the UU Service Committee. These campaigns will be aligned and coordinated, and part of the overarching organizing strategy of Side With Love.

To better reflect this intentional integration into Side With Love, we have also re-structured our Organizing Strategy Team–the UUA staff group that holds responsibility for the outward-facing justice ministries and campaigns of the Association. Working together, this team will be focusing on creating an impactful, engaging, nourishing multi-issue hub where UUs come to ground our spirits, grow our skills, and act together for justice. Following this message, you can see brief profiles of each of the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team members, along with contact information and details about the portfolios of work they lead.

In short: we will still be supporting our partners, congregations, and people of faith and conscience who are concerned about climate justice, decriminalization, democracy, and LGBTQ+ and gender justice as well as other issues that require a faith-filled response. We’re simply being more intentional in our declaration that all our prophetic justice work requires us to Side With Love.

To hear more reflections about how Unitarian Universalists are being called to Side With Love in the coming time, and ways to get involved, join our team at UUA General Assembly for our live workshop, “Harvesting Lessons, Planting Seeds: Reflections on Organizing, 2016-2021” on Thursday, June 24, 5:00-6:30pm ET/2:00-3:30pm PT. Check out all our General Assembly offerings here.

We are so grateful for the ways Unitarian Universalists continue to Side With Love in so many ways, and in so many places. The work that lies ahead of us is immense, but we know that we carry on the legacy of generations before us who have brought us to this point. We are excited for our next phase together, and we can’t wait to build with you. We are so glad to be in the struggle together.

In faith and solidarity,

The Rev. Ashley Horan, UUA Organizing Strategy Director
On behalf of Side With Love’s Organizing Strategy Team

Meet your Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team
Rev. Ashley Horan
Nicole Pressley
Everette Thompson
Audra Friend
The Rev. Ashley Horan (she/her) is the UUA’s Organizing Strategy Director, and leads the Side With Love Organizing Strategy Team. In this role, Ashley shapes the big-picture vision and goals for the UUA’s outward-facing justice work, advises senior UUA leadership on justice-related issues, and supervises the staff team that designs and implements the work of Side With Love and all its related programs and campaigns.

Nicole Pressley (she/her), formerly the National Organizer for UU the Vote, now serves as Field & Programs Director, and as a member of the Side With Love leadership team. In this role, Nicole supervises the team of field organizers, and creates opportunities for UUs to engage in leadership development, skill building, and collective action.

Everette Thompson (he/him), formerly the Campaign Manager for Side With Love, now serves as Political Education & Spiritual Sustenance Strategist, and as a member of the Side With Love leadership team. In this role, Everette designs opportunities for UUs to deepen their political grounding and analysis of critical justice issues and movements, and offers ways for people to nurture and sustain their spirits as they engage in long-haul work for justice.

Audra Friend (she/her) serves the Side With Love team as Data, Communications, and Technology Specialist. In this role, Audra creates the technical infrastructure that makes our digital organizing possible, and supports the creation of compelling narratives that link our values to our actions for justice.

Susan Leslie
Rev. Michael Crumpler
Aly Tharp
Susan Leslie (she/her) currently serves as our Coalitions & Partnerships Organizer, after 29 years on UUA staff in a wide variety of justice-related roles. As a part of the field organizing team, Susan focuses on supporting strong, accountable connections between UU congregations, frontline movement partners, and faith-based coalitions. Beginning July 1, Susan will be working 60% time in her last year on staff before retiring in July 2022.

The Rev. Michael Crumpler (he/him), Multicultural & LGBTQIA+ Programs Director, is based in the UUA’s Ministries and Faith Development staff group, and contributes 40% of his time to the Side With Love team. Michael holds Side With Love’s LGBTQIA+ and gender justice organizing, oversees the UUA’s Welcoming Congregations program, and publishes the Uplift newsletter and blog.

Aly Tharp (she/her or they/them) is the UU Ministry For Earth (UUMFE) Director of Programs and Partnerships, and serves as an ad hoc member of the Side With Love team. In this role, she serves as a liaison between the UUA and the ecosystem of UU climate justice organizing, and oversees Create Climate Justice, a joint project of the UUA and UUMFE. Aly collaborates and advises on climate- and earth-justice related organizing and strategy.

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