Beyond James T. Vaughn: Fixing Delaware’s Broken Prison System

Join a free public discussion sponsored by the ACLU, with the director of their National Prison Project.

June 7, 2017 12:00 pm to 1:00 PM 
First and Central Presbyterian Church
1101 N. Market St, Wilmington, DE 19801
Google Map

With an incarceration rate nearly twice as high as neighboring New Jersey, Delaware is an unfortunate leader in America’s trend of mass incarceration.

Prison staff shortages compound the lack of crucial programming, making successful re-entry an unlikely outcome in the First State. Bring your lunch and join us as we take a hard look at the pitfalls of our troubled prison system–and how it can be fixed.

david_fathi_for_webFeatured speaker David C. Fathi is Director of the American Civil Liberties Union National Prison Project, which brings challenges to conditions of confinement in prisons, jails, and other detention facilities, and works to end the policies that have given the United States the highest incarceration rate in the world.

Questions? Call Mindy Bogue at (302) 654-5326, ext. 101 or mbogue@aclu-de.org.

More information at the ACLU-DE website.

 

Pop-Up Field Trip to Bright Spot Farms

Saturday, May 20   —  10 a.m. to Noon

BrightSpot

Learn about Bright Spot Urban Farm—it’s easy!

  • Meet at First Unitarian at 10:00 on Saturday.

  • Carpool to Bright Spot Farms in New Castle.

  • Tour the garden (where you will help with weeding)

  • Hear about the Bright Spot job skills training program (some of our ILYA graduates have participated)

  • Shop the greenhouse (flowers, herbs, vegetables)

  • Return to church between 12:00 and 12:30

Questions? Call Renee Anderson (302) 529-7845

Greenhouse

FIRST UNITARIAN CHURCH ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE TASK FORCE

Hot Buttons: Death Penalty and Abortion Rights [SIGN HERE]

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Look for our table in the Parish Hall on May 21

Oppose HB 125, restoration of capital punishment

cropped-UUDAN-new-logo_3DELAWARE’S DEATH PENALTY statute was deemed unconstitutional by the Delaware Supreme Court in August, 2016. House Bill 125 was recently introduced to reinstate the death penalty in Delaware. It passed the House of Representatives on May 9. Many UU’s are now engaged in the effort to defeat this legislation.

As recently as 2013, DE was listed as fifth in death sentences per capita and third in executions per capita following the reinstatement of the death penalty in 1976.

The death penalty does not deter crime. In spite of its consistent use of the death penalty, Delaware is in the top 10 states in terms of murder rate. States with the death penalty have consistently higher murder rates than those without the death penalty.

The Unitarian Universalist Delaware Advocacy Network (UUDAN) is undertaking an email campaign enabling congregation members to communicate with their State Senators. However, the outcome in the Senate remains uncertain.

On May 21, we will be signing letters to Governor Carney asking him to veto House Bill 125 if it reaches his desk The Governor has expressed ambivalence about the death penalty and it is critical that he hear from those opposed to this barbaric practice. Look for our table in the Parish Hall during social hour.

 

Support SB 5, protect choice for Delaware women


SheDecides DEDelaware has had a law on the books since 1953 that SEVERELY LIMITS AND EVEN CRIMINALIZES ABORTION. If Roe v. Wade is overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court, that is the law that would be in effect here in Delaware.

For decades, delegates at the General Assembly of the Unitarian Universalist Association have supported Statements of Conscience favoring reproductive justice. Now we need to raise our Delaware UU voices in support of reproductive choice—right here at home.

In the General Assembly, the State Senate has passed SB 5, a bill that would bring Delaware law up to the current US standards. It is now in the hands the House for hearings and vote. Many religious organizations have been vocal opponents this bill. Our religious voices are needed.

On May 21 and 28, we will have postcards available for you to write a brief note to House delegates, stating that you are a person of faith and support the legislation. We will take care of addressing and mailing them. Look for a table in the Parish Hall during social hour. More information at https://www.shedecidesdelaware.org/.

Oppose HB 125, Delaware’s Renewed Death Penalty

cropped-UUDAN-new-logo_3ACT NOW.
Join the UU Delaware Advocacy Network and tell your state senator to oppose HB 125.

Delaware’s death penalty was deemed unconstitutional by the State Supreme Court in August, 2016. House Bill 125 was recently introduced to reinstate the death penalty in Delaware, and was passed by the House of Representatives on May 9.

The new Unitarian Universalist Delaware Advocacy Network (UUDAN), with members from all five UU congregations in the state, is now advocating in opposition to HB 125 in the Delaware Senate. If you are a Delaware resident, please visit the UUDAN Sign Up Page to join UUDAN.

Click here to join UUDAN and oppose the death penalty in Delaware.

Providing your address and clicking the “Submit Button” on this page will enable UUDAN’s powerful advocacy software to send you a direct link next week to your State Senator just as the bill is being considered. We’ll also guidance for both phone and email communications.

In the future, legislative advocacy communications will come directly from UUDAN, so sign up now! Visit the UUDAN website to find out more about our growing advocacy network.

Jack Guerin
UU Society of Mill Creek

 

Are You a Member of the Master Race? White Supremacy Teach-In – April 30

Racism

Do you believe that whites are superior to other races? Are you a member of the “Master Race?” The Klan? A Neo-Nazi? Are your politics Alt-Right?

If you’re reading this Unitarian Universalist blog, probably not. But here are a few other questions: If you are white, how have you benefited from white supremacy in America? What unearned privileges have you enjoyed as a white American without thinking much about them?

Try this: If you were a hiring manager, how would you see an applicant’s “fit” for a job in a mostly white business where people of color usually fulfill service functions? It’s easy to think that you would be supportive of—or at least fair and neutral toward—applicants who don’t look or talk like you. If almost everyone in management has an advanced degree, how would you compare two job seekers—one with and one without this credential?

What if, in the end, you decide to hire the white man with the degree and other qualifications that connect him (remember the “fit?”) to everyone else in the organization?

On Sunday, April 30th First Unitarian Church will set aside its scheduled programs to be part of a Teach-In on white supremacy. More than 500 Unitarian Universalist congregations—about half of the denomination’s churches—have agreed to suspend their  theit usual activities to address white supremacy within the Unitarian Universalism, and to examine our own hearts and minds.

First Unitarian’s teach-in is being held in response to the resignation of UUA President Peter Morales, who “stepped down in the midst of an escalating controversy over the UUA’s hiring practices and statements he made in response to charges that those policies reflect and perpetuate ‘white supremacy’ in the liberal but predominately white religious movement.” (UU World, March 30, 2017)

Sometimes it takes courage to understand how white supremacy privileges some of us and disempowers others. But thinking that you don’t need to grapple with these issues in our denomination, church, and personal lives merely helps perpetuate this discrimination.

—Jeffrey Lott

UUFN to Host Delaware’s March for Science and Our Earth

MarchforSciencePin
The Delaware March for Science and Our Earth will be held in Newark, Delaware, on April 22, 2017. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark will be the starting point. This march is a satellite march for the March for Science being held in Washington, DC

The Delaware March for Science and Our Earth, and the events surrounding the march are meant to focus on our love of science, critical thinking, and our earth. This march demonstrates our passion for science and the environment and sounds a call to support and safeguard the scientific community and our Earth. The mischaracterization of science as a partisan issue, which has given policymakers permission to reject overwhelming evidence, is a critical and urgent matter. It is time for people who support scientific research and evidence-based policies to take a public stand and be counted. The acceleration of climate change and the elimination of environmental protections make this a critical time in our history. 

All are welcome to attend any or all of the following events at the
Newark UU Fellowship, 420 Willa Road, Newark 19711. Phone: (302) 368-2984

Details and a list of confirmed speakers are found at
http://uufn.org/delaware-march-science-earth-2017/

Sign-Making Party: Poster Potluck Extravaganza
Tuesday, April 18, 2017
6:00 pm to 9:00 pm

Click here to get a FREE Eventbrite ticket for The Poster Making Potluck Extravaganza. Required due to limited space.

Click here to go to the Facebook Event Page for The Postermaking Potluck Extravaganza

Science Fair for Youthscience-fair
Saturday, April 22, 2017

9:00 am to 10:00 am 

Click here to get a FREE Eventbrite ticket for The Cool Science Fair and Open Mic March Warm Up. Required due to limited space.

Click here to go to the Facebook Event Page for the Cool Science Fair and Open Mic Warm Up Event.

March for Science and Our Earth
Saturday, April 22, 2017 
10:00 am to 12:00 noon

This March is a peaceful walk that will begin and end at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Newark. The group will gather at 420 Willa Road, proceed north on Willa, turn left on W. Park, turn right on S. Main, turn right on E. Main, turn right on S. College Ave., turn right on W. Park Place and then left on Willa.  Marchers are encouraged to bring signs expressing their love of the sciences and our earth. This is a non-partisan event and we encourage you to create signs with that in mind.

Click here to get a FREE Eventbrite ticket to help us plan for crowd size.

Click here to go to the Facebook Event Page for the Delaware Science March.

Rally in MacKinnon Hall
Saturday, April 22, 2017
12:00 noon to 2:00 pm

Details and a list of confirmed speakers are found at
http://uufn.org/delaware-march-science-earth-2017/

Like Science and Mother Earth, these are non-partisan events. Please create and bring signs with that in mind.

Sinkford’s Call: “Don’t look away this time.”

Sinkford_GA2016

Rev. William Sinkford at General Assembly. © 2016 Nancy Pierce/UUA

Yesterday’s announcement of new interim leadership for the Unitarian Universalist Association is but a first step in healing and changing our association. I was particularly heartened by the choice of Rev. William Sinkford — the association’s first African American president (2001–2009) — to lead the UUA until a new president is chosen at General Assembly. No one is better prepared to lead us through this time of reflection and change.

At General Assembly last year, Rev. Sinkford delivered the sermon at the Service of the Living Tradition, and his words have stayed with me. Here’s how UUWorld described Sinkford’s sermon:

Former UUA President Bill Sinkford urged Unitarian Universalists in his sermon to “confront hard truths we would rather avoid” and to see themselves “not as the already conscious waiting for others to wake up,” but as activists more willing to join Black Lives Matter protests, Pride parades, and, generally, “not to look away this time.”

Of the history and legacy of Unitarians and Universalists between the mid-1960s and today regarding racial justice work, Sinkford said, “Our faith looked away. We did not ‘stay woke.’ There is no innocence left for any of us.” He pointed to a possible brighter future, saying, “Resistance is what love looks like in the face of hate. Resistance is what love looks like in the face of violence.”

The Rev. Kimberly Quinn Johnson, one of 45 newly fellowshipped ministers and minister of the UU Congregation of South Fork in New York, said after the service, “I appreciate how energetic the worship feels, but I also feel discomfort, as it seems like the music, largely from black traditions, makes our faith look different than what we really are.”

Johnson also praised Sinkford’s words about the Black Empowerment Controversy of the 1960s, after which hundreds of black UUs left the faith. In his sermon, Sinkford, who is black, referred to the controversy as “a fit of white entitlement,” receiving laughs and enthusiastic cheers from many in attendance.

I was one of those cheering. I thought the laughter was of the nervous embarrassed sort, the way you laugh when someone points out that your fly is down. Bill Sinkford wasn’t making a joke. This was truth-telling of the highest order.

Sinkford began his powerful sermon with a description of his youthful encounter with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who delivered the Ware Lecture at the 1966 General Assembly. The video of Sinkford’s sermon is worth watching in its entirety (24:39).

To me, Sinkford’s point was that Unitarian Universalism didn’t merely miss an opportunity in the 1960s—we blew it. If you study what happened during the Black Empowerment Controversy, which broke over UUism in 1967 and has hurt us ever since, you’ll understand why questions of diversity are so sensitive and important within the UUA—and in our congregation—today. [Books have been written about the Empowerment Controversy, but you can read brief account of it  here.]

As a denomination built from the ground up at the congregational level, before we criticize the UUA, we must examine our own house first. Don’t look away! Stay woke. And let’s not fall into another fit of white entitlement.

—Jeff Lott