MUUSJA equips individuals and congregations:
We bring people together, hone skills and offer spiritual grounding.
WHAT WE DO
MUUSJA coordinates UU faith-based nonpartisan work to protect democracy, voting rights and voter engagement in Minnesota, North and South Dakota, and contributes to national #UUtheVOTE organizing for 2020 and beyond. Read all our related blog posts and updates.
o UU values prevailed nationally in the 2020 election with which we helped. As we move into 2021, the #UUtheVote team will meet monthly rather than weekly, but continues to glean and share information on key civic engagement efforts including legislative redistricting (Fair Maps) and the National Popular Vote.
o We recruited and coordinated a team of #UUtheVOTE liaisons from 28 of 31 MUUSJA region congregations. We presented Sunday services and evening forums on voter registration, census count, and engagement strategies, after which liaisons supported congregational organizing for direct action (postcards, letters, calls, textbanks, and poll monitoring).
o We supported outreach to under-represented voters, teaming with the Minnesota League of Women Voters (distributing lawn signs, staffing voter information and voter registration drives); Minnesota Voice/WeVote (phonebanking); ISAIAH (phonebanking); the MARCH Table (interfaith racial justice work); the Census Hub (calling Minnesota residents to be counted for the 2020 census); Reclaim Our Vote (postcards and phonebanks); Vote Forward (letters); When We All Vote (texting); the Justice Squad (invited voter registration at rallies organized by people who have lost relatives to police violence), as well as the UUA #UUtheVOTE.
o We hosted online forums on voter registration, voter engagement, Census Count, using the arts to promote civic engagement, and organizing in North Dakota with the BadAss Grandmas.
o We wrote to 39,000 voters! sending over 25,000 hand-written cards and letters to under-represented voters in Georgia, Florida, Arizona, and Texas, with nonpartisan partners Reclaim Our Vote (15000 postcards) and Vote Forward (10000 letters). In November 2020, we wrote & sent 14,000 additional postcards for the Georgia run-off, with Reclaim Our Vote.
o We co-hosted phonebanks to Wisconsin, Georgia, Florida, Philadelphia, and Minnesota in collaboration with the UUA and Minnesota Voice/WeVote.
o We co-hosted textbanking with When We All Vote.
o We co-hosted a few in-person voter registration drives with careful COVID precautions, with the Justice Squad, Minnesota Poor People’s Campaign, When We All Vote, and the Delta Sigma Theta sorority (women from historically Black colleges and universities).
o We led two well-attended rallies to protect the United States Postal Service at the Minneapolis main post office, with careful COVID precautions.
o We joined COPAL (Comunidades organizando el poder y la acción latina) on Election Day 2020 to monitor polls in selected precincts of Minneapolis and Saint Paul; many of us served as election judges and poll challengers.
o Using part of a generous grant from Minnesota Voice/We Vote MN, we collaborated with the #LoveVoteRise artists’ project for voter engagement from under-represented communities. We hired canvassers to poster small businesses in Duluth, Eveleth, Mesabi, Moose Lake, Pine City, Brooklyn Park, Brooklyn Center, Saint Louis Park, Plymouth, Bloomington, Burnsville, Shakopee, Eagan, Apple Valley, Stillwater and Woodbury. To encourage voting in under-represented communities, we focused on markets, cafes, and other small businesses run by Minnesotans of Somali and other African, Latino, Native American, East Asian – Indian, Vietnamese and Hmong heritage. A light projector was used to project a “bat signal” of the #LoveVoteRise logo onto iconic Duluth area landmarks. The logo was linked to a page of Minnesota voter information. Photos were posted to multiple social media outlets to boost interest in voting. Photos from the project can be viewed at https://www.instagram.com/explore/tags/lovevoterise/?hl=en&eType=EmailBlastContent&eId=548466b5-f856-44ec-8a6c-e8497134cb91 And on the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/LoveVoteRise/
MUUSJA convenes UU’s across the state to set goals, plan, and work towards climate justice, in collaboration with UU Ministry for Earth and Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, and other environmental groups.
MUUSJA supports resistance to the Line 3 pipeline construction in northern Minnesota. As of January 15, 2021, this is a rapidly changing situation. We rely upon dedicated UU volunteer liaisons for all of our work, and for Line 3, we also follow the excellent notes, and collation of news links, from the MNIPL Line 3 Interfaith Coalition, Honor the Earth, GINIW Collective, Gitchigumi Scouts, RISE, and others on the front lines, especially affected Indigenous communities.
We amplify key news and events by posting those in our email list with links to events & other opportunities to support the resistance.
We have channeled $18,000 in grants from our national UUSC partners directly to frontline water protectors work, and continue to work towards raising funds to support them.
In November 2020, we co-hosted the “Being a Good Relative” training with Jacob Johns, and the December “Prepare to Care” forum with Winona LaDuke, Tara Houska, and other Indigenous women leaders of the Line 3 resistance, with the UU Congregation of Duluth, UUSC, and UUCSJ. These programs were broadcast nationally
During January 2021, we will be offering a 5-part series training for water protectors and allies focusing on non-violent direct action, legal support, decolonization, winter weather preparedness, and leveraging your voice and privilege. These workshops will be livestreamed from the frontlines and will also feature a cultural component such as storytelling, songs, or art-making.
To raise awareness & inform engagement among UU’s across the region, there have been forums on pipeline resistance at First Universalist in Minneapolis (by Roberta Haskin & team), Unity Unitarian in Saint Paul (by Jean Hammink & team), UU Church of Willmar (by Kay Slama & Rita Chamblin), UU Church of Underwood (Rita) and UU Congregation of Duluth (Rita & Katie Kline), with more to come.
Solos, Silos, Sanctuary, & Solidarity: 2021 MUUSJA Racial Justice Series for Unitarian Universalists & friends in Minnesota, North & South Dakota
November 24, 2020: “Prepare to Care” – Line 3 Resistance, Climate Justice & Indigenous Rights (watch on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hL-jBE7Pou8 )
December 17, 2020: Interfaith vigil of solidarity & prayer: A water protector gathering, with MUUSJA, Minnesota Interfaith Power & Light, UU Ministry for Earth, UU Young Adults for Climate Justice, UU Service Committee, and Side with Love
mid to late January, 2020 – (DATES & REGISTRATION coming very soon, please give grace to our frontline partners for late-breaking scheduling, stay tuned!):
Line 3 Resistance & Allyship – Stay tuned for upcoming training for water protectors and allies focusing on non-violent direct action, legal support, decolonization, winter weather preparedness, and leveraging your voice and privilege. These workshops will be livestreamed from the frontlines, and feature a cultural component such as storytelling, songs, or art-making.
January 19, 2020, 2:30-4:00pm – TRUE forum – Transforming Rural Understanding of Equity – “When Hate Comes to Town” – Part 1 of a 3 Part Series—Conversations with Rural MN Social Justice Workers – Registration Link: https://tinyurl.com/TRUESession6
January 21, 2020 – See “Thirty Days of Love”, below – Side of Love discussion & Rabbi Rachel Mikvah forum, from national UUA Side of Love organizers Details & registration at https://sidewithlove.org/30-days-of-love-2021-live-events
January 23, 2020, Saturday, 10-12AM Central Time: Immigration Sanctuary, Accompaniment, & Resistance in the MUUSJA region. How have UU’s & interfaith partners across our region been showing up in solidarity with newer immigrant and refugee communities? Talk with folks involved in direct resistance (vigils, protests, legislation), support (court observers, letter-writing, physical sanctuary & accompaniment), education & outreach (forums, dinners), and relationship-building (frontline & interfaith partners). REGISTER
January 24, 2020 – Sunday, 2-5pm Central – ISAIAH’s “We Make Minnesota” Virtual Launch – As many know, ISAIAH is a Minnesota-based coalition mainly of Christian and Muslim congregations, and other “people of faith.” MUUSJA is joining and encouraging those UU’s in Minnesota who want to work in coalition with other religious communities to join us in siding with ISAIAH’s vision and work towards a multicultural democracy and caring economy. We’re aware that particular religious expressions may not serve everyone, and even risk triggering trauma for some of our beloveds; yet we also know that many find the Faith Agenda and interfaith association with ISAIAH a powerful, effective, and spiritually rich connection. MUUSJA invites UU’s to consider this an opportunity to reflect on how we show up and connect with interfaith and multifaith organizing, building upon a history of generally successful relationships with ISAIAH, Gamaliel, Minnesota Council of Churches, Jewish Community Action, Muslim American Society (MAS) and Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Joint Religious Legislative Coalition (JRLC) and MNMN (Minnesota Multifaith Network), and other faith-based organizing groups in our region.
January 26, 2020 – see “Thirty Days of Love”, below… Zach Norris, on police violence & defunding, from national UUA Side of Love organizers, see below Details & registration at https://sidewithlove.org/30-days-of-love-2021-live-events
January 28, 2020 – see “Thirty Days of Love”, below… Willona Sloan, on grieving, from national UUA Side of Love organizers, see below Details & registration at https://sidewithlove.org/30-days-of-love-2021-live-events
February 16, 18, 20, 23, & 25 – Reflection & Readiness. Tuesdays & Thursdays, 6:30-8:00pm; Saturday, 10-11:30am, Central Time. Reflection & Readiness: MUUSJA UU Racial Justice Summit is an opportunity to reflect, convene, and connect across UU congregations in Minnesota and North & South Dakota, to share how we’ve been learning and taking action towards thriving multicultural democracy, and discern next steps for collective liberation. Join UUs from other congregations for a Racial Justice Summit grounded in worship and covenant. Each day, we will split into breakout rooms offering racial identity caucus spaces in which white people will practice calling each other in, process their privilege, and practice ways of being that will help mitigate harm as they interact with BIPOC UUs and community members. BIPOC will similarly explore our racial and UU identities, and find strength, inspiration, and healing with one another. The conversations and connections begun at the Summit will continue long afterwards, encouraging collaborative UU racial justice work across congregations. Unitarian Universalist values and Principles call us to racial justice work, and this Summit is open to all UUs in Minnesota and North & South Dakota who are committed to answering that call. Attendance at all sessions is encouraged, as this Summit aims to widen the circle of UU racial justice work through new and deeper connections. For details and to register, see https://www.muusja.org/events/reflection-readiness-muusja-uus-racial-justice-summit/
February 27, 11am-8pm (Central Time): UUA New Day Rising Conference: Register at https://www.uua.org/leadership/events/new-day-rising-2021 Is your congregation ready to take a new step in changing white supremacy culture? Want to learn what your fellow congregations are working on, and how you might apply it at home? Join a continent of UUs as we explore next steps in creating Beloved UU Communities.
Wrapping our regional work in a national Side With Love thermal blanket is: Thirty Days of Love 2021 – January 17 through February 13 Details & registration at https://sidewithlove.org/thirty-days-of-love … This collation of readings, music, films, reflection questions, is largely “asynchronous” meaning you can adopt it for your small groups or use it solo… But within it are several “synchronous” scheduled large-group events, specifically:
January 21st – 11 AM Central – Side of Love discussion
January 21st – 6 pm Central – Rabbi Rachel Mikva, Ph.D.
January 26th – 6 pm Central – Zach Norris
January 28th – 6 pm Central – Willona Sloan
Details & registration at https://sidewithlove.org/30-days-of-love-2021-live-events
Immigration Sanctuary, Accompaniment & Resistance
MUUSJA is a co-signer of the Sanctuary State Bill for Minnesota and member of the Sanctuary State Coalition.
With the Sanctuary and Resistance Team of First Universalist Church, and other UU’s across the state working in alliance with local partner organizations led by newer immigrants to Minnesota, MUUSJA resists state-sanctioned separation of families via ICE detention and deportation, and exploitation of refugee and immigrant workers.
We support and team with the work of
Resisting worker exploitation and inadequate protections, especially obvious during the 2020-2021 pandemic — with Saint Cloud’s “Fe y Justicia” and “Greater MN Worker Center,” we have met online to share the stories of workers resisting unfair conditions and UU’s statewide mobilizing for justice for newer immigrants & refugees
Conversations with Friends — writing and meeting with people in detention, providing backpacks and related supplies
Court Observers — witnessing and taking notes on the proceedings of Minnesota immigration courts, with The Advocates
Vigils and Rallies protesting ICE detention, especially during the COVID pandemic, at the Sherburne Detention Center and at the Whipple Federal Building (immigration courts), with ICOM
Provisioning and supporting congregations able to directly provide sanctuary for immigrant families
MUUSJA organizes UU’s to participate in the Twin Cities PRIDE Fest Booth and Parade, as well as other regional PRIDE festivals over the summer, as an affirming celebration of LGBTQA+ lives and progress. The congregational liaisons for PRIDE assist to recruit and register volunteers to march in the parade and represent Unitarianism and regional UU congregations by sharing info and answering questions at the PRIDE fest booths. Youth and adults are encouraged to participate in some of the happiest festivities of the year!
In 2020, PRIDE fests were cancelled or curtailed due to the pandemic, and we don’t know yet what will happen in 2021. But stay tuned, we welcome your interest and congregational leadership and volunteering to make PRIDE happen across the region — if possible!
Pride festivals in MUUSJA’s region include:
Volunteer Congregational Liaisons are MUUSJA’s most important asset. MUUSJA serves to bring them together, to share, grow, and amplify their talents, and ground their work in UU principles.
We build relationships with clergy and lay leaders at each congregation in order to build bridges among congregations. MUUSJA’s Congregational Liaisons often are volunteer leaders of congregational social justice teams or Boards. They link the strengths and needs of their congregations together with MUUSJA’s resources for communicating, organizing, planning, training, and developing programs. MUUSJA connects each liaison with their counterparts from other UU congregations, other faith communities, key secular partners, and regional and national UUA programs.
At larger congregations, several liaisons may represent groups that focus on particular interests and initiatives, such as climate justice, immigration reform, racial equity, LGBTQA+ rights, etc. Their work with MUUSJA helps to remind their congregations that of the interconnectedness of all these issues.
Please contact us if you are interested in volunteering.
Often, MUUSJA staff act as connectors — ladders who provide the structure and direction for congregational volunteers to grow and learn in their justice work; and bridges who identify, introduce, and facilitate new relationships with community partners and leaders on justice issues.
Our goal is to facilitate the creation of networks that are accountable and sustainable for the long haul, among UU’s within their congregations; across congregations; among multi-faith and secular partners; with regional and national UU resources.
Our partnerships with groups such as INITC, ISAIAH, Minnesota Voice/We Vote, and others, allows MUUSJA to convene people from different cultures and backgrounds for the transformative experience of being humans together.
With a focus on our goal of building clergy and volunteers’ capacity to organize effectively for change, and collaborate constructively with social justice partners, MUUSJA staff and consultants offer a variety of thematic, one-time workshops for congregations, social justice teams, or regional clusters of congregations. Fee arrangements for workshops and Sunday services are flexible, with contracts based on time, participants, event planning demands, and number of presenters or facilitators, and adjusted for the size and resources of the hosting congregation.
Current topics include, but are not limited to:
- Issue Organizing 101 — Models, strategies, and tactics
- Beloved Conversations (Racial Justice 101)
- Organizing Across Generations
- “Day on the Hill” – Faith-based legislative advocacy
- #UUtheVote for 2020 Elections and Beyond
- Relationship building; “One to Ones” and Deep Listening
- Recruiting, engaging, and developing social justice volunteers
- Sanctuary, Accompaniment and Resistance
- Event planning for social justice organizers
- How to use social media for social justice organizing
- Full inclusion and participation of people with disabilities
Online meetings — convening calls — are open to everyone who wants to build relationships across congregations and interest areas, connect into pressing social justice issues, and help each other with leadership questions.
Some 2020 convening calls focus on strategies for organizing while coping with COVID-19; efforts for fair redistricting and voter engagement via the nationwide #UUtheVOTE program; ongoing work for racial justice in partnership with immigrant, refugee, and BIPOC communities; and organizing around Line 3 pipeline resistance. In 2021, we continue this work and may also be meeting around LGBTQA+ and gender justice (including reproductive rights and work towards a ban on conversion therapy); and elder justice issues (including end of life options).
Visit our calendar for upcoming calls and events. Find details and recordings from previous calls here.
Each year, MUUSJA presents Justice Awards to individuals, congregations, and/or youth groups who are doing exemplary work. Click here for the annual recipients.
In 2020, because the year demanded such courage, strength, persistence, and optimism simply for everyone to endure… And because so many rose to that challenge with grace and generosity… we chose to suspend the Justice Awards temporarily because in a pandemic of viral illness and white supremacist violence, for UU’s in the justice-making spaces, “all have won, and all must have prizes.”