Social Justice From Home

#7 RE UU At Home – April 27th, 2020

As you all know there are many, many, good causes locally and globally that we can support through financial donations, but in fact, you can give support in many different ways including letter writing and signing petitions.    Thanks to Ashley and Jack we have an social justice activity everyone in the congregation can do to support the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe in Massachusetts.

Here are some websites that can give you some background on the Tribe and the latest Federal Decision regarding the Wampanoag Tribe’s land status:

For adults – take a moment to sign onto MoveOn’s petition : Land is Sacred: Stand With the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe

The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, the very tribe that welcomed the Pilgrims in the 1600s, is at risk of losing what is left of their homelands due to a determination made by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

Teach your children how to call their Congress people and government officials. 

Children have a powerful voice! If they resonate with this issue, here are some folks they can contact:

  • Call Senator John Hoeven of North Dakota, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs at (202) 224-2551 and urge him to support the forward movement of the two bills.
    • H.R. 312 / S. 2628 — The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Reservation Reaffirmation Act, which effectively reverses the Secretary of the Interior’s termination action.
    • H.R. 375 / S. 2808 — An amendment/update to the 1934 Indian Reorganization Act, which effectively protects other native nations from similar actions.
  • Call the Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 and ask to speak to your Senators (or find your senator here), and urge them to support the above two bills.
  • Call Secretary of the Interior David Bernhardt at 202-208-3100 x3 and ask him to stop his efforts to disestablish the Mashpee Wampanoag reservation.

For children – take some time to learn about the Mashpee Wampanoag and draw a picture or write a letter of support.

Look at the websites with an adult.  Think about how the UU Principles guide us to respect all people and to take action.  Writing letters is effective!  Send your letter to your Federal Representatives (look online for their names and addresses) and they will use what you say to guide them in their advocacy work.  Below is the letter Jack sent to his elected officials.


Packing Love and a Whole Lot More

On February 9th we had a whole congregation worship service that was a special “break out” service organized by the UUSA Religious Education Ministry.  The original breakout was designed about five years ago after RE went to a training and learned about the many ways we can worship beyond the traditional Sunday Sanctuary experience.  RE Ministry has been experimenting with different types of services ever since.

In the past RE asked people to choose between music, conversation, art and action and they heard people say, “It is so hard to choose!”  This year RE Ministry set up the breakout groups in a way so that they didn’t have to choose because each group had a little bit of conversation, did a small amount of art, some action and some music.  This system encouraged a good mixing of people.  Many people in the congregation say they  want to get to know each other and this was one small step towards helping people mix and mingle.

Four weeks before the service we began collecting items for a backpack project supported and run by A Project of St John’s Episcopal Church in Ashfield & the Franklin and the County Transition from Jail to Community Task Force (TJC).

Here are some of the highlights of the program that were told to the breakout groups in our congregation:

It’s difficult when women are released, because there are waiting lists for low-income and subsidized housing, and it can be hard to find work.  The women often leave jail with nothing but the clothes on their back.  

The organizers asked women being released from jail for ideas about what would help the most if included in the backpack. The list has developed from their ideas.  35 packs were given out the first year and 45 were given out last year.  

A member of the organizational committee is quoted as saying “The program continues to grow and evolve every day…” “We want to expand, but we need the help of others. This little church (the St. Johns Episcapal Church) with a big heart does a lot, but we can’t do everything. We’ll be doing some outreach to other churches this next year.”

The UUSA collected and packed 16 backpacks and an additional five or six boxes of items that could be used by the group to pack more packs!

Below is a photo of Brenda Miller leading the congregation in singing How Could Anyone.  After we sang together we blessed the packs with backpack charms we had made for our own Back Pack service in the fall.



Break Out 2019!

For the fourth year in a row we have held an RE Break Out Service around Valentine’s Day.  This year we kept the same theme.

Here is our Order of Service:  Breakout 2019 OOS

The multi-age groups self selected and tackled their tasks with gusto!  And when the half hour was up we came back to sing and show and tell.  Several people asked that we do more services like this one.  If you liked the non-traditional format please let people who weren’t there know what you liked about it.


April Showers Bring May Flowers and So Does RE!

This past week  I ran into Sue gardening around the UU and I blurted out , “Would you mind if the RE program did some planting?”  Sue was enthusiastic.  The next leap wasn’t hard to take – “Would you like to help us garden?  I’ll buy the plants!  How about this Sunday?”  Who could say no to extra hands and plants?  I arrived Sunday with three boxes of pansies and dark skies.  By the time we got outside, it was showering and we moved as fast as we could, using all of Sue’s tools and some kitchen spoons too!  By the time we got to the third box it was pouring.  We decided to let Sue plant the rest when it let up.

Back inside we talked about why we want to keep the outside of our building looking nice and the consensus was that nice building make people feel welcome.  We drew pictures of things that changed and Sue handed out baby sunflowers for everyone to take home to grow.  Remember, don’t plant them before Memorial Day!  And for those budding scientists, Sue gave instructions on how to do a bee count and turn over the data.  I included the instructions below.

Thank you to all the kids who got muddy and cold for the sake of the flowers and thank you to Sue for maintaining our welcoming presence in the Town of Amherst.


Lemon Queen Sunflowers
(Hellianthus annuus)

These sunflowers like the sun and mature to a height of 5 to 6 feet. They have been started
indoors, so they will need some gradual acclimation to their growing spot outdoors. When the
weather has warmed into the 50 degree range, transplant the flowers 12 inches apart, or put your plant in an 8 inch pot. Keep the soil moist and well weeded. You can protect young seedlings from hungry birds with netting or plastic berry baskets, removing before the plants get crowded.

The Great Sunflower Project run by Dr. Gretchen LeBuhn of San Francisco State University uses
Lemon Queen Sunflowers. Participants count the number of pollinators that visit the Lemon Queen in a fixed period of time. When the data is compiled, a baseline number of pollinator visitations for the plant can be compiled for sites across the country. That number can then be used to track pollinator trends over time and determine their health. Bees need our support as they pollinate our vegetables and flowers!

To learn more about the project or participate, go to or