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Study guide helps congregations explore 'Escalating Inequality'

Congregational Study/Action Issue chosen at 2014 General Assembly.
By Sonja L. Cohen

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A study guide (pdf) for the 2014–2018 Congregational Study/Action Issue “Escalating Inequality” is now available from the Unitarian Universalist Association. UUA staff worked with a team of experts to produce the study guide, which offers resources to help UU congregations educate themselves on classism and economic inequality, and to explore possible actions they might take to effect change.

Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs) are chosen in alternating years at the UUA’s annual General Assembly to engage UU congregations and districts in a four-year process of study, action, and reflection on pressing social issues. Delegates at the 2014 General Assembly in Providence, R.I., selected “Escalating Inequality” as the 2014–2018 Congregational Study/Action Issue.

The Escalating Inequality CSAI looks at the ways in which increased inequality in the world is inextricably tied to a variety of social injustices, including economic injustice, mass incarceration, migrant injustice, climate change, sexual and gender injustice, and attacks on voting rights. Other recent CSAIs have included “Reproductive Justice” (2012–2016), “Immigration as a Moral Issue” (2010–2014), and “Ethical Eating” (2008–2012).

The Escalating Inequality Study Guide was created out of a process heavily informed by experts from UUs for a Just Economic Community and UU Class Conversations, said Jessica Halperin, Witness Ministries program associate for the UUA’s Multicultural Growth & Witness staff group. The team discussed the unique role, if any, of UUs in the movements for economic justice, established learning goals for the guide, and made recommendations about resources to include in it. The resulting study guide is organized according to four learning themes, each with ideas and materials for reflection, education, and action for congregations to create their own plans for learning and activism, said Halperin.

“The CSAI can really mobilize congregations to take an interest in a particular topic and help to shape the perspective and presence of UUs among themselves, in their communities, and nationally,” Halperin said. “It’s an exciting place to be: standing at the edge of what we know and what we can be together, imagining the possibilities for transformation and new partnerships and new goals.”

In the next few months, the UUA’s Commission on Social Witness will solicit ideas and suggestions about the two current CSAIs from UU congregations, including a poll to offer comments on the draft Statement of Conscience on Reproductive Justice which will close February 2. A poll to share congregations’ perspective on the Escalating Inequality CSAI will close March 2.

Photograph (above): © 2014 DNY59/iStockphoto.com. See sidebar for links to related resources.

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