Social Justice

Social JusticeThe Church & Society branch of UUMC works to create change where there are systems of injustice that marginalize God’s people and creation. Because any form of oppression stands against the gospel message, we seek to bring social change through education, advocacy and concrete, practical change.

Healing Broken Relationships

Interfaith Action of Central Texas
Contact: Rev. John Elford
www.interfaithtexas.org
iACT cultivates peace and respect through Interfaith dialogue, service and celebration. Opportunities include: monthly small group interfaith conversations; bringing hope to those who need help with home repairs; helping provide English classes and other programs for our newest neighbors; and celebrate different faiths through a special annual Thanksgiving worship event. Members of UUMC may serve as representatives to iACT and help connect our congregation with the group’s programs. UUMC also co-sponsors a Muslim women’s group dinner for the homeless during Ramadan each year.

Social JusticeReconciling Ministries Committee
Contact: Bruce Kellison, Sally Ferguson or Mike Coughlan
www.rmnetwork.org
The Reconciling Ministries Committee believes that UUMC should not just accept LGBT visitors and members but celebrate their contributions to our church life. The committee provides programming, classes and events to make our congregation and denomination more welcoming to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people. Among other activities, the Committee sponsors a bi-monthly LGBT Fellowship group as one way to better integrate visitors and members who may be isolated in our church. These gatherings take place the second Sunday of every other month and often include sharing a meal, listening to a speaker or discussing ways LGBT lives intersect with spirituality and life in the church. All are welcome to join as the gay-straight-alliance nature of the Fellowship is an important feature of its appeal.

Green Ministry
Contact: Colleen Hobbs or Richard Bates
UUMC’s Green Ministry team increases environmental awareness through projects such as gardening, energy awareness and waste management. Members always are seeking new ways to raise the church’s environmental awareness and strengthen its green initiatives. All are welcome to join the team and share ideas.

Changing Social Policies

Social JusticeAustin Interfaith
Contact: Rev. John Elford
www.austininterfaith.org
Austin Interfaith is a non-partisan, multi-ethnic, multi-issue organization of more than 30 congregations and groups that work together to address issues affecting Austin families and neighborhoods. It’s a broad-based citizens organization committed to justice and democratic values. The group works to develop leaders and provide opportunities for member institutions to negotiate effectively through the political processes with local government and community leaders on issues of common concern.

Methodist Federation for Social Action
Contact: Richard Bates
www.swtmfsa.wordpress.com
MFSA is an independent movement of progressive United Methodists taking action on issues of justice, peace and reconciliation. Founded in 1907, MFSA calls upon the United Methodist Church to expand its understanding and embodiment of the radical call of the gospel to be the inclusive, justice-seeking, risk-taking Body of Christ. The Social Principles and Social Creed of the United Methodist Church have their roots in documents developed by the MFSA in 1908. The Southwest Texas Chapter of MFSA is a group of United Methodist laity and clergy who have been active in Austin since August 2005. The group meets on the second Thursday of the month, except during the summer. Members participate in the MLK March, Pride Parade and anti-death penalty events. The group also sponsors recycling of batteries, oil, paint and antifreeze, as well as a luncheon at the Annual Conference for progressive issues.

Texas Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty
Contact: Kathy Barrett
www.tcadp.org
In accordance with the official United Methodist Church’s position opposing the death penalty and urging its elimination from all criminal codes, this group seeks to educate the community about the issue. TCADP strives to empower people and organizations to work for the elimination of the death penalty in Texas and across the globe.

Educating & Empowering

Social JusticeAmos Commission
Contact: Brian Heymans
www.amoscommission.org
The Amos Commission’s mission is to empower and equip members of UUMC to influence public policy in ways that are consistent with the gospel and the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church. The group organizes speakers, trainers, training programs and web resources as well as lists of advocacy and community action organizations throughout Texas. The intent is to enable every United Methodist to become passionate about doing justice and going beyond charity — to change systems and bring God’s Kingdom here on earth. The UUMC Amos Commission is directly connected with the Austin District Amos Commission.

Economic Justice Committee
Contact: Trish Merrill
UUMC’s Economic Justice Committee believes that while works of charity for the needy are good and important, charity alone is not enough. UUMC must become engaged in activism for economic justice. The committee was created in 2012 and has spent its first year becoming educated about the causes and effects of our nation’s increasing income inequality and economic instability. The group is actively planning projects to raise awareness of economic justice issues.

Missional Outreach

MissionsThe missional branch of UUMC works to fulfill God’s call on our lives to enter spaces of adversity and offer a helping hand. Wherever there is hunger, poverty, illness or other hardships, we strive to extend God’s grace through various acts of service and kindness.

Offering Hospitality

Interfaith Hospitality Network
Contact: Beth Kelley
www.foundationhomeless.org
Interfaith Hospitality Network at UUMC provides a temporary home to families as they take steps to restore themselves to housing. In cooperation with local churches and the Foundation for the Homeless (FFH), UUMC hosts families in our education building for one week four times a year. Guest families rotate weekly from church to church as they enjoy safe shelter, meals and hospitality provided by congregation hosts. Guests work with FFH staff members to develop resources for housing and other needs. Many guests hold jobs and have children enrolled in school. IHN helps fill the housing gap for families who are experiencing hard times. Volunteer opportunities include hosting on evenings, weekends and overnight shifts, providing meals and cleaning up on Sundays.

Fighting Poverty

Fig Leaf Store | Saturdays from 9 to 10:30
Contact: Judy Trejo or Jane Leifeste
Our Fig Leaf Store offers families the opportunity to shop for clothing and personal needs. While most items are donated to Fig Leaf, certain items such as underwear, socks and toiletries are purchased through the Fig Leaf budget. We welcome drop-offs of gently-used items during regular church hours. Fig Leaf welcomes volunteers to work in the store, sort donations or host clothing drives in support of this ministry.

MissionsOpen Door | Saturdays from 9 to 10:30 am
Contact: Judy Trejo
UUMC’s Open Door Ministry began in 1991 as Saturday Outreach. It started as a Sunday School class project during Lent to serve sandwiches to homeless people in the University area. In response to the need in the community — as well as the transformation that occurred in the hearts of those serving — the program continued beyond Lent and a new ministry was born. Today, Open Door is a partnership between UUMC, a number of community and church organizations and more than a dozen homeless participant volunteers. On a typical Saturday morning, more than 200 brunch meals are served through Open Door. About 40 volunteers are needed each weekend to make this ministry possible.

Alternative Gift Market
Contact: Beth Kelley
Each year, UUMC holds an Alternative Gift Market where all are invited to shop for holiday gifts that support local and global non-profit groups. There are always beautiful items to purchase as well as opportunities to make gift donations to groups such as Heifer International, local agencies and others.

Micah 6
Contact: Jane Leifeste
Micah 6 is a coalition of 11 University-area faith communities working together to respond to the needs of the homeless and impoverished. Services offered through Micah 6 include access to food pantries; assistance with basic material needs such as clothing, medication and bus passes; crisis counseling, and fellowship meals. The Micah 6 program also includes specialty services for homeless youth. Learn more about Micah 6 Austin.

Nurturing our Children

Zavala Circle of Friends
Contact: Sandy Smith
UUMC plays an important support role to Zavala Elementary School. In the mid-1990s, UUMC and Zavala Elementary formed a partnership that has nurtured and supported improvements in the students’ performance and their attitudes about academics and success. The group has provided support for Zavala in a variety of ways: working directly with students, assisting teachers, improving the school and helping in the library, office and computer lab. Volunteers also assist during special school events such as Reading Rally Day. No matter what your interests are or how much time you have available, Zavala can match you with a program or one-time event that enhances student learning.

LoveWorks
Contact: Jane Leifeste
LoveWorks began as a colaboration between Big Brothers, Big Sisters and UUMC to create mentoring relationships for children in kindergarten through high school who have an incarcerated parent. Although our original mentees have “aged out” of the program, mentors stay in touch with the families and provide services as needed. LoveWorks sponsors the UUMC “Angel Tree” each Christmas and is looking for new ways to serve children and families impacted by incarceration. For more information about how you can help, click here to download a PDF.

MissionsPreemie Ministry
Contact: Kathy Hiebert
UUMC’s Preemie Ministry supports the neo-natal departments of three local hospitals by providing knitted and crocheted layette items for their tiniest patients. The garments and blankets are tagged with a greeting from UUMC and blessed during a worship service in December. Because our primary focus is preemies, we need smaller items than typical newborn sizes. Blankets need to be about a quarter of the size of a regular baby blanket (15- to 22- inch squares, or 18-by-24-inch rectangles). We also need booties and hats (8- to 10-inch circumference and 4- to 5-inches high) as well as gowns or shrouds. We also appreciate items made of soft cloth, such as seersucker or cotton flannel. Soft pastel colors are also preferred, but please no yellow (preemies often suffer from jaundice). Knitters and crocheters of all skill levels are welcome to participate. Items are collected at the end of each year and delivered to the hospital chaplain offices.