Social Justice

As a Unitarian Universalist minister I serve to advance the cause of social justice in our communities at large.  I believe that we are called as Unitarian Universalists to enact our faith in humanity and the world by practicing what we preach.  My preaching ministry will reflect this call to action and I will continue to work with your congregation’s social justice groups to provide opportunities for service.  Having spent years in public service, I have learned that we must persistently and consistently work towards change in whatever way we can.  For me, this work is most effective at the local level where we can make a difference and be known for the difference we make.

rainbow-umbrella-181939957-300x200Since coming to Pacific Unitarian Church in 2005 we have expanded our social action ministry significantly.  The social justice team leaders devote a great deal of time to studying and planning for our work each year.  The team sets the goals and projects in order to retain focus and not dilute our work by reacting to individual pet causes. Our social justice ministry then devotes an entire season to an issue often integrating their work into the spiritual themes we use in worship. This is a very effective strategy and has earned us the South Coast Interfaith Councils “Outstanding Contribution to Interfaith Understanding Award” (2009) and the “Faith Partner Award” from Harbor Interfaith Services (2014).

Beyond this, I serve as the president of the board and senior consultant for the Chalice Oak Foundation, a new non-profit dedicated to the formation of entrepreneurial ministries by newly ordained ministers to our movement.  Chalice Oak provides a non-profit umbrella under which these new ministries can apply for grants.  We also provide assistance with grant writing, organizational skills and networking. http://www.chaliceoak.org  I have also just been accepted to the UUMA’s new “Beyond the Call Entrepreneurial Ministry Program”. My two year project will be to design and fund a “Justice Makers School” for new ministers who are considering community ministry.  The school will likely represent the week long leadership school model.

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photoWhile in Frederick, MD I was very active in involving our congregation in local issues around housing equality and racial justice.  The congregation played an instrumental role in promoting interracial dialogue through a long time partnership with the NAACP.  Those efforts dovetailed into my work as a community leader.  For several years I served as Chair of the Frederick County Human Relations Commission.  We were instrumental in promoting and seeing passed state legislation adding sexual orientation to protected classes in Maryland as well as securing enforcement power for the commission, a goal they had been pursuing for two decades.  Experiences such as these bring evidence to Theodore Parker’s contention that “the moral arc of the universe is long but it bends toward justice.”

Inter-faith work has been and will continue to be an important part of my calling.  I believe that as Unitarian Universalists we are especially suited for this important work.  While in Frederick, I co-founded the Inter-faith Alliance.  This group was an active voice in Muslim, Jewish and other faith conversations within a predominantly Christian community.  I have always nurtured relations with my inter-faith colleagues, especially Islamic and Jewish leaders.  After 9/11/01, we were the first congregation the local Imam spoke to that next Sunday morning.  I have received several awards for this work, including one from the Islamic community.

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Greater Los Angeles is naturally far more diverse and I have had the opportunity to work closely with many other faith groups.  For the past five years I have served on the board of the South Coast Inter-faith Council (SCIC), a coalition of over a hundred different congregations. http://www.scinterfaith.org/. I also serve on the Interfaith Task Force for Habitat for Humanity/ Los Angeles.  Just this year I began my service on the board of directors of Harbor Interfaith Services http://www.harborinterfaith.org/ where I volunteer as the faith outreach coordinator.  My current congregation was just awarded the “Faith Partner of the Year” by this agency.

I am a consummate organizer and because of this I have served several times as the leader of the local clergy group.  I was president of the Frederick Ministerial Alliance for several years and serve now as the co-convener of the local inter faith clergy group.  I believe that in taking on this responsibility I raise the profile of our congregations in the wider community and dispel some of the less favorable impressions others have of our way of religion.

I enjoy public speaking and writing and will continue to do this with the church I serve.  I am a regular columnist for the Peninsula News and an occasional contributor to the Daily Breeze, the sister paper serving the larger south bay region of Los Angeles.  I have been a regular presenter on our inter-faith program The Dawn Unity Series with other faith leaders broadcast on local cable channels.  In Frederick, I was a regular panelist and occasional host of a local television broadcast of “Faith in our Community”; a favorite of late night channel surfers!

I am ardent supporter of Interweave, UUSC and our anti-racist/anti-oppression work.  We are the people we have been waiting for!