ACTING TO EMPOWER OUR COMMUNITY

TO CHALLENGE THE CONDITIONS

THAT CREATE INEQUALITY AND INJUSTICE

Unitarian Universalists believe that every person is sacred and that there is an interdependent web of all existence. When one part of the web is torn or injured, all other parts are injured, and the web needs to be restored. At Prairie, we hold that faith-based justice work is more than obtaining and sharing information about these interdependencies. It is about transformation. To transform the world, we ourselves need to be transformed — and that is an ongoing process we do together.

Toward that end, we have formed the Prairie Justice League. Our purpose is to provide opportunities for the congregation to act on our collective UU values to make our community and our world a better place – for everyone. We meet to review, discuss, create, and support initiatives that promote social justice. The Prairie Justice League also seeks to raise awareness about and engage members in the social justice initiatives of the UUA: https://www.uua.org/justice.

Our work for a better world calls us to sometimes unexpected places as we harness love’s power. From working side-by-side with Aurora Warms the Night, the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition, or Black Lives Matter to broadly advocating for all human rights, Prairie members find ways to help make a difference both locally and on the national stage.

The Prairie Justice League meets once a month, typically on second Sunday afternoons. Join us any time to catch up on what’s going on, or to share your thoughts and ideas! Contact us if you’d like to be added to the Prairie Justice League mailing list for all the details!

Interfaith Alliance of ColoradoSide With Love

 

 

 

 

Opportunities to Serve

At PrairieUU

Inclusion Denver Unitarian Universalists affirm and promote the inherent worth and dignity of every person — and that means embracing the spectrums of sexual orientation and gender identity. Prairie UU is certified by the UUA as a Welcoming Congregation. That means we live out our commitment to sexual and gender diversity by including people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, intersex, pansexual and asexual at every level of congregational life.
Racial Justice As Unitarian Universalists, we believe that every person has value as a member of the human family. The suffering caused by racism must be ended if we want to create fair and loving communities. We work to end racial discrimination and injustice, starting within ourselves and moving out into the world around us. We support multiracial, multiethnic congregations and advocate for the end of inherently racist policies such as mass imprisonment, deportation, and voter suppression.

Intercultural Development Inventory

As an important first step, the Prairie Justice League seeks to look within ourselves and our congregation on matters of multicultural sensitivity. We strive for a fully inclusive community where people of all races, ethnicities, and cultures see their cultural identities reflected and affirmed in every aspect of congregational life—worship, fellowship, leadership, governance, religious education, social justice, etc. Moreover, we strive to assure that in our community no singular cultural identity dominates all other identities. As a largely racially homogenous community, we strive to gain understanding and insight into our own biases that have shaped our experiences since birth. In short, we seek intercultural competence. Toward this end, several Prairie Justice League members and other congregational leaders are actively participating in assessment and programming offered by the Intercultural Development Inventory. Our goal: to move ourselves individually and collectively along the Intercultural Development Continuum. Whether you’re involved with the IDI or not, we encourage Prairie UUs of all ages and backgrounds to share their hopes and dreams for the role that we can play in advancing racial justice in the United States. Many of us are already working with groups and campaigns, and others are still figuring out how they want to be involved.

Black Lives Matter

Black Lives MatterRecognizing that white supremacy is an institutionalized cultural pattern reaching far beyond any single incident or person, the Prairie Justice League, representing the Prairie congregation at large, supports community efforts to dismantle this effort, including but not limited to partnering with Black Lives Matter. Black Lives Matter is a movement and a stance in response to the following reality: the United States was built on a legacy of slavery, racism, and oppression that continues to take new, ever-changing forms. It’s important to remember that saying that “black lives matter” does not mean that black lives are more important than other lives, or that all lives don’t matter. However, due to our legacy, the systemic devaluing of black lives calls us to bear witness, even as we acknowledge that oppression takes many intersecting forms.

Immigrant Justice

Denver Metro Sanctuary Coalition The Prairie Justice League, representing the Prairie community at large, strives to help protect vulnerable immigrant families from being separated by deportation. We support the immigrant community through direct interaction, coalition building, advocacy, non-violent direct actions such as vigils and accompaniment to court, and community education. We are proud to partner with the Denver Metro Sanctuary Coalition to achieve these goals.  
At Prairie, we learn Unitarian Universalist spiritual practice through our worship, classes, small groups, and justice work. Most of our meetings begin with reading our Touchstones, developed from Quaker Parker Palmer’s Courage and Renewal work. Almost every summer we have a spiritual retreat at the beautiful Franciscan Center on the north side of Colorado Springs.

Touchstones

  • Come to the work with all of ourselves; be present as fully as possible
  • Extend and receive welcome
  • Believe that it’s possible to emerge refreshed, surprised, and less
  • burdened than when we came
  • There is always invitation, never invasion; always opportunity, never demand
  • No fixing, no advice giving, no correcting one another
  • When the going gets rough, turn to wonder
  • Create space for the spirit of joy, laughter and play
  • Speak your truth in ways that respect other peoples’ truth
  • Trust and learn from the silence
  • Observe confidentiality
  • Let the beauty we love be what we do

Present-Day Prophets

by Marchaé Grair, UUA director of outreach

I was listening to my favorite podcast, “Harry Potter and the Sacred Text,” and co-host Casper ter Kuile shared a powerful language reframe.

Thanks to a friend’s suggestion, ter Kuile refers to people who experience oppression as “prophetic” instead of “marginalized.” He said his friend uses this reframe because people on the edges of society have a fuller picture of both hardship and possibility than those whose experiences are always centered as normative. It’s time for a spiritual realignment for folx who enter justice-oriented spaces as “allies.” What if allies thought of justice work as a prophetic encounter where they are called to learn from those pushed to the edges of society? What if people believed they had to earn the title of ally by learning from the prophetic instead of taking space and talking down to people about injustices they’ve never experienced? Prophets are not just things of the past — they still live among us, taking risk by chance or by choice. And in order to live prophetic lives, we must follow their lead. Our justice work can’t just be in support of the margins; it has to be because of the margins. We must trust that we don’t know what we have not lived and that those who experience injustice are the only ones who should be telling us how to end it.

Tenets of Accompanying for Social Change

We commit to creating intentional community and relationships outside of white supremacy culture and being intentionally pancultural across all boundaries of race, class, privilege, abilities and gender identities with a commitment to stay for the long haul.

Because the liberation of everyone and everything is inherently interconnected, we commit ourselves to work across cultures, to learn to embrace conflict, discomfort and complexity; to de-center whiteness; to de-center binary thinking; to de-center ablest thinking; and to have an expectation of making mistakes.

  1. We are committed to creating a culture of appreciation, understanding that creation and creativity come out of respectful and trusting communities; we will take more time in setting goals of inclusivity and diversity.
  2. We will struggle together and apologize and take responsibility as a community.
  3. We will hold the value that the most affected by a decision will make the decision. We will let go of trying to give, help, teach, tell or fix, especially as part of white supremacy culture.
  4. We will unlearn our patterns of dominance such as taking charge, going first, jumping in without giving others an opportunity to speak, leading, rushing to decisions, either/or thinking, etc. We will practice creating listening space for all voices, welcome new ideas as a gift instead of as a challenge, and seek both/and thinking and solutions.
  5. When we are in pancultural community, we will assume we do not know what life and experiences are like for those from different cultures or with different identities than our own. We will listen more than we speak. We will understand that we have no right to comfort and will be open to one another’s pain. We will learn to articulate what’s at stake for ourselves, our families and communities unto the seventh generation.
  6. We will be willing to do more than listen and talk. We commit ourselves to action and to showing up outside our realms of comfort, materially, emotionally and physically.
  7. We will support the creation of diverse leadership and follow that leadership in disrupting the systems and structures of oppression.

Derived from academic and pastoral care resource on the topic along with interviews by Rev. Kelly Dignan with Dr. Vincent Harding, Staughton Lynd, Rev. John Fife, Rev. Dr. Thandeka, Rev. Julie Todd, PhD, and companions in the struggle and the resource article: White Supremacy Culture, Kenneth Jones and Tema Okun, ChangeWork, 2001

Learn more about Prairie’s justice efforts. Justice Overview  
Justice League Grounded in the principals of small group ministry, the Prairie Justice League conducts its monthly meetings as literal acts of accompaniment. Our faith calls us to be agents for social change, but this kind of work can feel draining, daunting, or even disconnected from our spirituality. Our meeting format is designed to simultaneously address both the desire to grow spiritually in community and the call to transform ourselves and the world. We try to engage with the world as we know it, walk beside our partners in the community, and return to reflect, recharge, and renew our commitments. Using this format encourages us to focus more on spiritual and social transformation and less on tasks, campaigns, and the roller coaster of political wins and losses. During our Prairie Justice League meetings, we take risks, make mistakes, learn together, and deepen our experience of social change and spiritual growth, as well as the connections between the two. We typically meet after church at a library or a gracious member’s home. Dressed comfortably, we partake in snacks and catch up with one another for a few minutes before we get started. Our meeting agenda is as follows:

First Hour

  • Chalice Lighting – One person brings words for lighting at beginning of the meeting; this can be a prayer, a poem, or even spontaneous prose
  • Tenets of Accompaniment – We embrace and recite tenets for accompanying for social change
  • Spiritual Practice – Another person brings a Spiritual Practice for the group to engage in together; we’ve shared practices such as meditation, sketching, free writing, mindful eating, tai chi walking and more
  • Sharing – Another person shares an experience related to a social justice issue of focus that created an emotional shift for the storyteller, enough to make her or him feel profoundly connected to something larger than herself or himself; we’ve shared on topics ranging from mental illness to police violence to homelessness to gender discrimination, and more
  • Group Reflection – after deep and present listening and a time of silence, group members reflect on the story as it has been told, describing feelings, lessons, connections, and potential actions toward social change

Second Hour

Business – during this loosely structured time, we share information and discuss personal and collective action plans, including but not limited to writing letters and emails, attending lectures and fundraisers, and participating in rallies and marches. We also plan for Service Sundays and upcoming Learning Hours that we are slated to lead. Closing Words and Extinguishing the Chalice – another person brings words for extinguishing the chalice and bringing the meeting to a close.

In our Community

At Prairie UU, we join other Unitarian Universalists as we work for justice, equity, and compassion in our relationships and systemic change in our society. We know that the escalation of economic inequality fuels a thousand injustices. We focus on combatting homelessness and hunger through partnerships with Aurora Warms the Night, Habitat for Humanity of Metro Denver, the Parker Task Force, and Ready to Work-Aurora.

Aurora Warms the Night

Aurora Warm the Nights Aurora Warms the Night (AWTN) provides comprehensive services to the homeless community of Aurora, Colorado where many Prairie UU members reside. In addition to offering shelter during inclement weather, AWTN also provide meals, clothing, advocacy and much more. We partner with them by participating in Laundry Days on our Service Sunday, assembling hygiene kits, collecting and donating coats and jackets, and more. To learn more about AWTN, visit their website at: www.aurorawarmsthenight.org.

Habitat Interfaith Alliance of Denver

Habitat Interfaith Alliance The Habitat Interfaith Alliance (HIA) believes in addressing long-term poverty and helping all families achieve affordable housing.  A safe and affordable home allows so many families to grow, dream and plan for a brighter future. As a partner, Prairie UU participates in fundraising activities, spreads awareness, and engages once a year in a build project, where we literally help construct a new home for a family in need. To learn more about HIA, visit their website at: www.hiadenver.org HIA Soup Cook-Off Cookbook Available Now!

Parker Task Force

The Parker Task Force (PTF) is dedicated to providing individuals and families in our community with food, short-term financial assistance, and other support services to help them become self-sufficient. These services are delivered with compassion and respect by a dedicated 100% volunteer staff. As community partners, we periodically coordinate food drives, collecting food from the congregation and surrounding neighborhoods, organizing, and delivering to PTF. To learn more about PTF, visit their website at: www.parkertaskforce.org Check out the gracious Task Force Thank You letter we received after our August.  

Ready to Work–Aurora

Ready to Work-Aurora Ready to Work-Aurora is one of the newest transitional housing and employment facilities offered by Bridge House, an organization that offers a range of services to help adults experiencing homelessness access resources they need for a better future. Located next to Aurora’s Nine Mile Light Rail Station, Ready to Work-Aurora is one the only work-first holistic transitional housing and employment models in Colorado! As a community partner, Prairie UU has supported fundraising activities and regularly offers companionship and healing through art ministry and accompaniment Service Sunday activities. Click here to watch a short video about Ready to Work-Aurora and visit Boulder Bridge House to learn more about the larger organization of Bridge House.
Open Space Garden

 

Around the World

How UUSC Works For Human Rights: Rooted in Partnership, Ready to Respond

In uncertain times, we are called to act collectively – now more than ever. Here’s how you can join in our response. Learn more.

 

Justice League Library

JL Library Prairie’s Justice League Library is now available. We have a wide variety of Justice-related books are available to check out during Fellowship. Please contact a Justice League member for details and recommendations. Be looking for a growing Children’s Section!

 

Notes from Previous Meetings

May 20, 2018

February 18, 2018

January 14, 2018

December 10, 2017

November 12, 2017

October 15, 2017

September 10, 2017