There are people who want to be a part of the anti-racism movement, the environmental movement, the LGBTQIA movements, the reproductive justice movement, the immigrant movement, the movement for poorly paid workers. They are lots of people who see these things on TV, or online, and they want to do something.
But, it's a sad fact that most people do not have access to these movements. Not only do they not have access, they have other responsibilities in their lives that stop them from locking onto an anchor chain of a Shell Oil rig. They can't relocate to Cambridge to sit in at the Harvard alumni office for divestment.
For most people their only avenues for justice work are to send money to someone, sign an online petition, and share particularly insightful bits of content with their friends and family on social media. Does anyone cares that they desire a great social transformation?
What if our public ministry was to care for all those who want a great social transformation?
What do I mean by "care for"?
I read a report about a small Obama office in 2008, somewhere in the midwest, which had a sign on the wall: RESPECT, INCLUDE and EMPOWER. That's a start.
We should RESPECT the desire expressed by any person for social transformation. We should respect them for having it. We should respect the reasons they have for it. We should stop judging its sophistication. We should not disrespect it, laugh at its naivete, dismiss it as white guilt, or hypocrisy, or being faddish, or inappropriate to their experience. We should meet them where they are.
We should INCLUDE all those folks in some form of public programming. The main focus of our ministry for the next 5 years should be the creation of public events, organizations, occasions which include all those who want a great social transformation. We should be partnering with those outside of UUism to create these events, and we should be mobilizing clergy and lay people, both UU and non-UU to be the leadership of these forms and activities. There is a place for everyone, even if it just to sing along with the songs.
Here's the hard, yet liberating, part: The place where that public ministry happens should not be our Sunday morning worship services. Sunday morning has another purpose.
One example: UU churches could host on Saturday morning, a weekly or monthly Community Justice Forum, where all the groups, organizations and individuals who are engaged in social justice work in the community can come, talk with others, and share their stories. Everyone is invited. Where do the people who want social transformation come together in your community?
Example #2: Imagine Standing on the Side of Love as a broad-based independent community movement for justice. Yes, it was created by Unitarian Universalists, but we turned it over so it can genuinely belong to all. It was our gift to all those who want justice now: the gift of an organization when it was rare.
And, we should EMPOWER people to do the work and get involved. Use our assets, our buildings, our connections, our power, our access to information to build the social movements. Grow and develop leaders. Teach people better songs and help our justice communities find their voice. Develop and promote the leadership of young people, people of color, and those who are not at the negotiating table.
One of the ways that we empower people is that we care for them. Building personal relationships. Help them think about these commitments in the context of the totality of their lives. How to live in right relationship with others, including their life partners. How to pass these values and life perspective onto the next generation. How to maintain a multi-generational circle of life. How to carry on after great disappointment, or grievous error. We care for people, not as cadre in the progressive cause, but as persons.
And we offer them the chance to worship. Worship, not community organization, is the work of Sunday morning. Worship, not community organization, is the primary work of our ordained parish ministers. Sunday morning (or any worship time) is for those who want to go deeper into the internal work of living and dying in the world as we know it.