Our Unitarian Universalist Principles assert that every person has inherent worth and dignity and that we are obligated to work for justice, equity, and compassion in the world. As part of our commitment to these principles, Peoples Church supports social justice action in a variety of ways, such as protests, financial support, and other efforts to create an inclusive community.
For the last two and a half years, the Peoples Church congregation has been increasing our knowledge and insight as to how racism and white privilege and supremacy affect our lives and communities. Our eyes have been opened.
The first year was spent in study, exploration, and increasing our knowledge and awareness. We read and discussed books and watched films together. We began to understand our own privilege and how white supremacy has been a guiding force in the establishment of laws and policies throughout the course of American history.
We ended the year with a Sunday Service where participants shared insights with the rest of the congregation. Our Eyes Are Opening: Reflections on Racism, White Privilege, & White Supremacy. We collected our insights into a book so we can return to these reflections and also share them with others who are on this journey: Our Eyes Are Opening SJC Booklet (PDF).
Then we began to reach out to our black neighbors as we learned how to become effective allies. For the last two years we have participated in Juneteenth to help celebrate the end of slavery with members of the black community. We hosted Caleb Rainey, “The Negro Artist,” for an evening of his spoken word poetry. And we aligned with Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church to co-sponsor to their annual Allen-Lincoln-Douglass Banquet.
We have enhanced our action and visibility in the community in a number of ways. We are the only church in the community with a permanent Black Lives Matter sign visible to all who drive down the street. We have another Black Lives Matter banner which we carry to protest marches and demonstrations.
Our next goal is to begin a series of forums to help us practice having difficult conversations with people who have different views then on ours on race, sexual orientation, political affiliation and other things that divide us. We will continue to provide monetary donations through our First Sunday Plate Collection to organizations on the front lines of addressing racism in America (see below)
The Peoples Social Justice Council meets once a month on Wednesdays at 1 pm.
Peoples and St. Mark’s are located in a residential neighborhood where many immigrants from the African continent live. These neighbors are from such countries as Rwanda, Congo, and Burundi. They have a sewing program at St. Mark’s and Peoples Church has supplied them with fabric and other sewing supplies.
Peoples has also donated land so our neighbors can grow vegetables for their own consumption as well as native crops which they generously share with Peoples members.
Every December, our congregation chooses a social justice issue to focus on for the coming year. As part of our efforts to support change, we donate our first Sunday plate collection to a group or organization that addressess that issue. During 2018, 2019, and into 2020 we have been learning more about and addressing racism, white privilege, and white supremacy. Donations between $500 and $600 each quarter have been provided to groups and organizations committed to figting racial injustice in our community, state, and country, including:
At the national level:
At the state level:
At the local level:
In addition, Peoples Church gives $2,000 a year to the Ecumenical Community Center, an interfaith organization here in Cedar Rapids which provides direct assistance to people in need through Helping Hands and Margaret Bock Housing.
You can help us support these organizations and others by visiting our Donate Now page. Choose “First Sunday Plate Collection” from the dropdown menu and join us in building a better world.