I have another church job, UUSC (Unitarian Universalist Service Committee)representative. I didn’t come looking for another volunteer opportunity, but it found me, and I took it because I believe in the work this organization does. This Sunday we will be collecting our yearly Guest At Your Table offering, or GAYT. When I joined our congregation, it was my first introduction to an organization like the UUSC. Coming from a Christian background, I was familiar with missions where social services were provided to people in conjunction with the message of Christianity. So, when the offering for the UUSC came up during the Thanksgiving service, I assumed that Universalists must have some missions somewhere in the world to provide aid to people and ……. ? What message were the UU’s giving people along with the aid, certainly not any particular religious doctrine.
Since that time, I have learned a bit more about the UUSC. It provides aid to people around the world, but not by establishing missions. Instead, it works through partnerships with local grassroots groups that are trying to bring about change. The UUSC is particularly concerned with marginalized populations that may be overlooked or excluded from traditional aid organizations, women, minorities etc. Besides providing money for direct aid through partnerships with local organizations, this group also advocates for social change. For example, the UUSC website has a link to express opposition to torture and to support fair wages. It is not enough to give aid to the victims; we need to change the social conditions that cause people to be victimized. Every year Unitarian Univeralists recognize the UUSC efforts during Justice Sunday. This year, the service will focus on the Crisis in Darfur.
Our congregation has done a great job of supporting the UUSC in past. Last year we received UUSC’s Vision of Justice Banner Society honor for our 2006 (50-99% membership) and the James Luther Adams award (for giving $1 per church member through our budget. As we give this year’s GAYT offering, I am hoping for another banner year, and encouraging our congregation to support the UUSC, not only with contributions, but by using this voice of Unitarian Universalism to fight for peace and justice around the world.