|April 5, 2021
Racial Justice and Democracy Defenders Convening Circles
MUUSJA is an anti-racism and anti-oppression ministry. Everything we do centers on building community where nobody has to benefit from someone else’s degradation, because the inherent worth and interdepency of us all is seen and held sacred.
Our Annual Report, “Recommit to Justice with Joy,” summarizes MUUSJA’s growth and gatherings in 2020 as most of us moved online. And now we invite the hundreds of people who participated in that work to continue to create Beloved Community together, via conversation, reflection, connection, and social action, in cross-congregational convening circles including an ongoing Racial Justice Convening Circle that will meet quarterly (and more often as needed) beginning April 22nd. A regional BIPOC-only Circle is under development, and will be open to people who identify as Black, Indigenous, or a person of color for community building, healing, and action grounded in UUism. Initiated and facilitated by MUUSJA staff member Nico Van Ostrand, this group will focus on topics and activism decided upon by the group.
How may each of us, with diverse and overlapping identities, cope with, and talk to friends and neighbors about, the horrendous murder in Atlanta of Asian-American women and men, which spotlighted a history of stereotyping, exploitation, and fetishization? We’re listening to UU’s, including those on MUUSJA’s staff and board who are part of the Asian-American community, and joining Bystander Intervention Training with Asian Americans Advancing Justice (beginning April 22nd with alternative dates in May).
How do you cope with, and talk to friends and neighbors about, the horrendous murder of Mr. George Floyd in Minneapolis and televised trial of Derek Chauvin, a man who swore an oath that says, “I recognize the badge of my office as a symbol of public faith, and I accept it as a public trust…” which lend renewed urgency to the longstanding need for alternatives to state-sanctioned surveillance, criminalization, incarceration, and violence that’s seemed like “business as usual” to some communities but comes as a shocking revelation to others. Make sure the only news you hear isn’t dominated by white commentators and corporate interests; we’re listening, for instance, to Mary Moriarty and Nekima Levy Pounds’ commentary from the Spokesman-Recorder.
As always, we remember Mother Jones’ motto, “Pray for the dead, and fight like hell for the living.” For example: There’s a “special election” happening right now for Mayor of Brooklyn Park which is the 6th largest, most racially, economically, and ethnically diverse city in Minnesota. It contains several precincts with the lowest voter turnout in the state. They have a primary April 10th and special election on August 13th. There’s a strong possibility that boosting BIPOC voter turnout, a la Stacey Abrams, could result in finally having a Mayor for Brooklyn Park who is part of the BIPOC community. So, we are in conversation about doing a nonpartisan postcarding campaign with low-turnout voters in BIPOC-majority precincts of Brooklyn Park, similar to what we did in 2020 in Wisconsin and Georgia. As usual, this doesn’t tell folks who to vote for, but shares a handwritten message with info on how/where to vote. This is a head’s up to watch for later details. The Democracy Defenders Convening Circle beginning April 13th will talk more about this, in addition to discussing redistricting and national popular vote initiatives that move us all closer to government of, by, and for the people.
Introducing the Elder Justice Convening Circle
This April, MUUSJA begins a new states-wide, cross-congregational, Elder Justice convening circle which will meet quarterly to connect, reflect, and act on issues of particular interest to UU’s in the 60 to 90+ age range. We’re beginning in April, appropriately enough, with matters of life and death:
April 12, at noon or 6pm Central: Join MN Compassion & Choices for an orientation to the End of Life Options Bill (medical assistance in dying).
April 19, 6:00pm Central: MUUSJA hosts UU Rev. Harlan Limpert & Dr. Rebecca Thoman of Compassion & Choices, for a conversation on how UU spirituality & values relate to End of Life Options.
April 26, 6:00pm Central: All vaccines considered: MUUSJA hosts Stanford virologist Maria Interrante for a user-friendly Q&A update on how new COVID vaccines are being developed, how they work, and how to talk to your friends & neighbors who may be vaccine-hesitant. Maria presented in January at the Lake Fellowship in Shorewood, MN and we’ve invited her back because hers was the clearest & most helpful talk we’ve heard about the COVID virus & vaccinations.
Immigration Justice Vigil & Circle
On April 13th at 7:30 AM, MUUSJA and First Universalist Church Sanctuary and Resistance team, with Rev. Justin Schroeder, and the Interfaith Coalition on Immigration (ICOM), will host an online & in-person vigil at the federal detention court building. Click here for the links to the Zoom and Facebook Live feeds, and further details.
MUUSJA has joined the Sanctuary State Coalition of ICOM and encourages all UU’s to consider contacting your legislators to encourage them to co-author and support the Sanctuary State Bill (HF 1919 / SF 2118). The coalition goal is to contact each of Minnesota’s 201 state legislators (134 House, 67 Senate) by May 17. We will share more in the Immigration Justice Convening Circle on April 29th.
Good Relatives & Water Protectors: Stop Line 3
Hello UU Justice Leaders!
ASK JOE: Please remember to ask President Biden to Stop Line 3. We urge you to customize the sample letter—personal stories about why this fight is important to you are invaluable. Send an email using the form: https://www.stopline3.org/biden
GATHER ONLINE: Everyone’s welcome to join MUUSJA’s online Climate Justice Circle on Tuesday, April 27, at 6:30pm Central Time. The group meets quarterly (or more often if planning an action) to connect representatives of UU Climate/Environmental Justice Teams from our states, and anyone else interested. Right now, we are focused on stopping the Line 3 pipeline, though some also are working on Minnesota’s Clean Cars bill. Our next Stop Line 3 events (watch for dates/links) will be virtual tours of Manoomin Camp and Red Lake Camp as well as a Know Your Rights workshop.
WRITE A NOTE & DONATE TO FOLKS JAILED FOR JUSTICE: This is a great way to take action if you cannot come to Line 3 in person! We all can side with folks who’ve dared put their bodies, literally, on the line. MUUSJA seeks & coordinates new donors who can contribute to community re-entry for Rattler, a water protector at Standing Rock recently released and needing to repair his van in order to work. Our “Honoring Water Protectors” fund also contributes to bail for folks arrested in nonviolent civil disobedience at Line 3. With UUSC & UUMFE, we invite everyone to gather Tuesday, April 6, at 6pm Central to write a note to Steve Martinez and other incarcerated or recently released water protectors.
COME TO THE RIVER: Meanwhile, please consider joining our partners from MNIPL to come up north in coming weeks & follow them at www.mnipl.org/stopline3 for more frequent updates. On April 9th (Friday) or April 10th (Saturday), Join MNIPL at the Water Protectors Welcome Center in Palisade (here’s the online tour for an orientation). These gatherings respond to the Indigenous leaders’ request to join them in prayer at the river, in order to build people power that is visible and grounded in our deepest values of moving toward a hopeful future. It is a 3-hour drive from the metro, and we’ll plan to spend a few hours learning, witnessing, and connecting. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org if you’re planning to visit, so the Camp has an idea how many to expect.
Friday 4/9: Arrive around 11am, wrap up by 3pm. With teach-in “Media Coverage of Line 3” workshop.
Saturday 4/10: Arrive around 11am, wrap up by 3pm. With First Congregational Church Minneapolis.
VIDEO ARCHIVE: To catch up in case you missed our previous tours and trainings, here are links (click the name or paste the link in your browser to watch the videos).
Virtual Tour of Welcome Water Protectors Center: https://fb.me/e/jB0KpJ3Oh
Outdoor Prep for Action Workshop: https://fb.me/e/3oGgBiIBX
Virtual Tour of Camp Migizi: https://fb.me/e/1Wp4CJFGO
Prepare to Care: Stop Line 3: https://fb.me/e/3fSKenvUB
Protect Sacred Water: Digital Rally to Stop Line 3: https://fb.me/e/TqE3rJuf
Also, I’m thrilled to announce that the Unitarian Universalist Congregation of Duluth officially passed a congregational resolution at their midyear annual meeting opposing Line 3 and voicing their solidarity with Indigenous water protectors. UUCD is the closest large UU congregation to Line 3 and MUUSJA celebrates this important resolution. More to come on this soon as they mobilize for action, and more to come from neighboring UU fellowships across Minnesota’s northern region.
With blessings and strength,
Katie Kline (she/hers/her)
MUUSJA Northland Regional Organizer
Sample the menu, don’t try it all at once…
Yes, dear ones, we know this is a lot! None of us can track or be engaged with everything, as one individual, nor do we need to be! Sometimes the bitterness is so overwhelming that nothing appeals. Sometimes there is so much filling our lives that even a little more is too much. But sometimes we are looking for a thing to sample… This is a menu full of rich opportunity and we share a Table…. just try a little something that seems familiar, or new, or seems to be calling to you. If it’s true that “You are what you eat…” Let’s nourish one another.
For the joy of justice,
Karen Wills, Executive Director