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