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Ministry for Social Justice and the Earth's June newsletter


In recent years, a movement has gained steam to reexamine U.S. history in the light of racism and its broad effects on all elements of society. This has sparked conversations and even a political backlash by the Texas Legislature and others. Confronting our Racism, a group of UUCBV members and several community partners are developing a community read and discussion (See below). The first book they are reading is a history of racism and the African American experience in this country, stretching from prior to early European contact on to the present.


Texas history, the way it has generally been taught in schools and portrayed in museum exhibits and historical markers, is not immune to this reexamination. I just finished reading Annette Gordon-Reed’s latest book, On Juneteenth, which interweaves the history of persons of African descent in Texas with a personal and family memoir of her life growing up in Conroe in the 1960’s and 70’s.


You may be familiar with Harvard Professor Gordon-Reed from her best-seller and Pulitzer Prize winning work, The Hemmings of Monticello, or her appearances on TV. Having gone to school in Conroe just several years before her, “On Juneteenth” helped me relate to my town in a new, deeper way. I strongly recommend this short book, especially if you have only learned the mythological rather than the real history of our state.


UNICEF India Fundraising


Our longest social justice fundraising program at UUCBV has been Trick or Treat for UNICEF, the United Nations Children’s Fund. Right now, there is a special need for funds for children’s programs in areas hard-hit by the pandemic. You can contribute to the USA UNICEF Fund at https://www.unicefusa.org/ The needs right now are especially great in India and South Asia, though not exclusively.


Texas UU Justice Ministry


The state legislative regular session is winding up right now, with several bills passed in a whirlwind fashion before there could be much feedback from citizens. These include a bill that all but bans abortion early in a pregnancy. The main hope now is to fight this law in the court system, where similar acts have been declared unconstitutional. Major restrictions on voting rights were also passed both houses and as I write this, are in reconciliation..

It is now an almost sure thing that the legislators will be meeting again in a special session this fall to discuss redistricting and spending the state’s federal funds for Covid relief. This may be another chance to work out a deal on healthcare solutions for uninsured Texans.


Change-4-Change


Those who were attending our in-person services at Hillel and 305 Welborn remember the clinking sound during the offering as members and guests dropped their extra change into the basket. Those funds, which added up over time, provide emergency funds for MSJE needs as they arise.


Since we are not meeting in person, you have a way to drop change in the virtual basket. It is on the drop-down menu on the “Donate” page on the church website.


Family Promise


Over the last year, good news on the Covid19 government assistance front has helped keep the Family Promise Hope Crossing facility empty of guests, although the shelter remains open if needed. The staff has been working hard to connect families with sources of federal rental assistance administered through various local governmental entities. This rental assistance, combined with more reasonable unemployment insurance payments, has enabled many families avoid homelessness.


As this assistance comes to an end, Family Promise anticipates a spike in demand for overnight services. When there are guests at Hope Crossing, one week out of every six weeks or so, UUCBV members provide cooked meals and groceries, and after training and a background check, some stay overnight as hosts. Please watch the ECast for opportunities to help.


Confronting Our Racism Group


Over the past few months, a group of area partners, Confronting Our Racism, has been organizing to fight racism through education and dialog. The first big project is a community book read, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi. It is a remix of Kendi’s earlier book on the history of racism in the United States titled Stamped from the Beginning and is recast in an easy-to-read format appropriate for High School aged as well as adults.


CORG is currently enlisting more groups in the area and plans to roll out the community read and discussions to the broader community in the fall. To get involved, check out the MSJE Homepage on the church website, where you can read more and join the group.


MSJE Meeting


The next meeting of the Ministry for Justice and the Earth will be on Sunday, June 13, at Noon on Zoom. You can check the calendar on the church website for the Zoom codes. If you are interested in what we have been doing, planning to do, or want input or have an idea, you are welcome. This is also where decisions on such important matters as which organizations will receive Split-the-Plate money are made.


Jerry Wagnon

Interim Chair


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