Justice for All

First Parish has long been committed to Social Justice. Most of that work focuses on racial justice, the environment, LGBTQ and elder issues, hunger, and immigration. Now via ZOOM, the Social Justice Committee (SJC) meets monthly to discuss these issues and plan related programs and events. 

Racial Justice

“First Parish Unitarian Universalist Church of Kennebunk, Maine will be a leader in taking action to challenge racism in ourselves, our congregation, and the greater community.”

This statement was adopted by the congregation in 2019. We host a number of activities throughout the year to act on that statement.

  • MLK Jr. Breakfast — The Social Justice Committee (SJC) organizes and sponsors a breakfast and presentation in honor of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. each year on the MLK holiday. This is an important community-wide celebration. In 2021, it was held via Zoom.
  • Workshops — SJC has sponsored workshops and panel discussions on racism, mass incarceration, and poverty.
  • Sunday Services — The Rev. Lara K.J. Campbell and SJC have presented many Sunday services on social justice topics.
  • Book Discussions — Church members have participated in discussion groups on books related to white supremacy and racism.
  • Sabbatical — Our minister studied slavery as it occurred in our community for her sabbatical in 2019.
LGBTQ + Flag for justice

Environment

The seventh principle of our UU faith is "respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part." Our natural world is included in that web, and our parish has a dedication to caring for and protecting our planet.

  • Local Actions — First Parish supports church and community efforts toward maintaining and improving the natural systems of our planet. Activities include energy efficient building improvements, Sunday services on environmental topics, Earth Day events, and beach clean-ups. 
  • Sierra Club — Before the building closed, SJC partnered with the Maine Chapter of the Sierra Club to sponsor a monthly film series. The films focused on environmental and social justice issues. Local experts provided analysis and answered questions. For more information you may reach out to the Maine chapter of the Sierra Club at [email protected] or by phone at (207) 761-5616.
  • Citizens’ Climate Lobby — SJC supports the work of the Citizens’ Climate Lobby, a national group working on means to mitigate climate change.  More information can be found at www.citizenscimatelobby.org.

LGBTQ+ 

Welcoming Congregation — After a rigorous self-examination and education process, the congregation voted in 2006 to become a Welcoming Congregation through the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). Our Welcoming Congregation is inclusive and expressive of the concerns of LGBTQ+ persons at every level of congregational life.

See our First Parish UU chronology on Welcoming Congregation.

Black Liver Matter Protest

Community

Our community is also part of that interdependent web, and when it comes down to it, we are here to reach out from our church building to the community at large in order to see our principles in action.

  • No Place Like Home — First Parish supports No Place Like Home, a community organization headed by a church member. Its vision is to build an age-friendly community that helps older adults thrive in their homes and neighborhoods, where they remain engaged and valued. Volunteers drive those in need to non-essential local destinations, help with small household tasks, and refer clients to other local services. Learn more at https://www.nplhmaine.org/.
  • New Mainers — The Social Justice Committee joins with other area churches in helping people recently immigrated into neighboring communities. Some members teach English Language Learners; some commit to mentoring a family for two years; and others collect clothing and household items.
  • Focus on Hunger — People affiliated with First Parish help to serve meals at the Bon Appetit Soup Kitchen in Biddeford, and a member has served on its Board. Food donation bins are placed at the Hannaford Supermarket in Kennebunk, where many in our community donate non-perishable food to be given to the York County Shelter in Alfred.
  • Community Outreach Services — First Parish partners with COS, an organization that works with the General Assistance offices of the Kennebunks and Arundel to help our neighbors who are faced with food, fuel, and other specific needs. The congregation also collects non-perishable food and produce for the community pantry at St. Martha’s Church; joins with other churches to deliver holiday food baskets; and provides lunches during the summer for children in need.
  • Community Cupboard — Toiletries are collected in a bin at church and then brought to the Community Cupboard at Sanford UU Church.

Social Justice Links

Maine Unitarian Universalist Social Action Network (MUUSAN) — FPUU is affiliated with MUUSAN, which advocates for social justice, health, environmental, and immigration programs at the State Capitol as relevant bills come before the Maine Legislature. Learn more at https://www.muusan.org.

Equal Justice Initiative — Bryan Stevenson’s non-profit, EJI, is committed to ending mass incarceration and excessive punishment in the United States, to challenging racial and economic injustice, and to protecting basic human rights for the most vulnerable people in American society. His book, Just Mercy, was a common read in many UU churches. Learn more at https://eji.org.

Current reading list —We have a number of books on social justice on a recommended reading list. View the list here @TODO.

Suggested Books and videos

Racial Justice

Waking Up White: And Finding Myself in the Story of Race by Debby Irving — For 25 years, Debby Irving sensed racial tensions in her personal and professional relationships. In Waking Up White, she describes the "aha!" moments that drastically shifted her worldview. She offers readers thought provoking questions to help them consider their own implicit biases.

Between the World and Me by Ta-nehisi Coates This book, written as a letter to the author's teenage son, lets the reader in on how it feels to be a black boy in an American city. Ta-nehisi Coates describes his youth in Baltimore, detailing the ways in which the school, the police, and street gangs, endanger, and threaten to disembody black men and women. He shows how "racist violence … has been woven into American culture."

Just Mercy by Bryan StephensonJust Mercy centers on Bryan Stephenson’s legal defense of a young African American man sentenced to die. The case transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever. Stevenson founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system: https://eji.org/bryan-stevenson/

White Fragility: Why It's So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism by Robin Diangelo — The New York Times best-selling book explores the counterproductive reactions white people have when their assumptions about race are challenged and how these reactions maintain racial inequality.

The Strange Career of Jim Crow by C. Vann Woodward — One of the great works of Southern history, this book actually helped shape that history. Published in 1955, a year after the Supreme Court in Brown v. Board of Education ordered schools desegregated, Strange Career was cited so often to counter arguments for segregation that Martin Luther King, Jr. called it "the historical Bible of the civil rights movement." C. Vann Woodward analyses the history of Jim Crow laws and presents evidence that segregation in the South dated only to the 1890s and thus was a relative newcomer to the region.

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander — A compelling argument that shows the many ways racial hierarchy still dominates American society. The New Jim Crow dives deep into the racial discrimination within our justice system. Passionate and engaging, this book will change the way you see race in modern America.

Video — Shadows Fall North: A two-hour documentary about the discovery of slaves' bones buried beneath a street in Portsmouth, NH, and how the community made them part of the Black Heritage Trail. Produced by the University of New Hampshire Center for the Humanities, Atlantic Media Productions, and the Black Heritage Trail of N.H: www.blackhistorynh.com

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson

Environment

Creating Community Anywhere: Finding Support and Connection in a Fragmented World by Carolyn R. Shaffer and Kristin Anundsen Describes the community movement, discusses new ways of living together, and offers practical advice on improving one's own community. 

A Great Turning: The Process by David Korten — A great turning to an ecological civilization cannot be imposed by institutions of the old economy. Leadership must come from the people. We must learn as we go sharing the lessons of our experience as we create institutions for a new, sustainable economy.

The Story of Stuff by Annie Leonard — Shows how our obsession with stuff is trashing the planet, our communities and our health, and includes a vision for change.

Comfortably Unaware by Dr. Richard OppenlanderThis award winning book, according to Jane Goodall, “explains, so clearly, how what we choose to eat has a direct impact on the health of Planet Earth. … I urge you to read it, to think about its message, discuss it with your friends - and start to change the world, one bite, one meal, one diet at a time.”