The Social Justice Committee exists to facilitate our congregation making a concrete, substantial positive difference in our community. The Committee accomplishes this charge partially by sponsoring events that directly benefit the immediate community of Middleboro and its neighboring towns: over the past year we’ve conducted a letter-writing campaign to get out the vote for the November Congressional elections; each Saturday morning we hold a “Black Lives Matter” vigil on the church’s front lawn; each month we direct Sundays’ Cash-in-the-Plate to a non-profit organization that benefits citizens of our area of Massachusetts. We also donate to national and international organizations that provide services in areas of great need, such as currently in Ukraine.
The committee is finding that our church’s social justice objectives can often be most effectively achieved by joining and supporting programs run by other local non-profit organizations. During 2022/23 we strengthened our on-going relationships with three of these, staffing and supporting the Bridgewater Communities for Civil Rights’ (BCCR) Juneteenth program, participating in three Sustainable Middleboro events, as well as attending a breakfast and events of the Brockton Area Branch NAACP.
Much of our discussion and work this year has been directed at improving our process as a committee, speeding our ability to respond to requests and regularizing our processes for communicating with the congregation. With a HUGE assist from Dan Hotchkiss and great weekly cooperation and help from Valarie Ortelt, we now have a regularly updated page on the FUUSM website. Deanne Bonnar, Dody Adkins-Perry, and Lois Aldrich have developed on-going relationships with BCCR, Sustainable Middleboro, and the Brockton Area Branch NAACP, often attending their meetings and becoming friendly with their volunteers.
We have spent time discussing how much of our effort to spend generating programs ourselves for the congregation versus facilitating congregation members’ interests. We believe we’ll be most successful if we do some of both: we don’t have the resources to put the weight of the church behind every interest of each congregation member but when we can, we can broaden the positive impact of our congregation members’ social justice passions. We don’t have the horses to do everything for everyone, but if we can’t sponsor a program directly, we can still often assist or provide guidance and/or contacts for those wanting to become involved.
With our process improving, we’re planning new initiatives over these coming months: Juneteenth celebration, a summer service presentation, a silent witness (domestic violence) exhibit, de-escalation training for the congregation next fall (what to do if there is hostile verbal or physical response at a vigil or protest), etc.
Current members of the Social Justice Team are Dody Adkins-Perry, Lois Aldrich, Deanne Bonnar, Bill Howe, Christine Hoyle, and Bob Waterman with Reverend Peter Connolly joining us. We hold Zoom meetings on alternating Thursdays.