Social Action

Social Action at First Parish20141220_120601

As a Unitarian Universalist congregation, we strive to make a positive difference in the world. At any given time, First Parish sponsors many different social action efforts.

The Social Action Council brings representatives from these action groups together a few times a year to discuss individual committees' activities, concerns, and needs, and to consider productive ways to collaborate. The chair is Suzanne Tiberii

Here are some of the social action activities that First Parish is committed to:

Partakers Group
is a faith-based, non-profit organization committed to advancing restorative justice, rehabilitation, and the healing transformation of both prisoners and society.The First Parish Partakers Group is currently sponsoring its second prisoner to earn a college degree, under the auspices of Partakers Inc., through Boston University's College Behind Bars Program. Sponsoring includes funding, visiting the prisoner, writing and advocating. The committee tries to increase awareness of UUA Criminal Justice and Prison Reform issues here through church services, panel discussions, and newsletter articles. Learn more at: www.partakers.org

Turning Point 
Once a month First Parish prepares a meal for up to 60 residents of this Framingham men’s emergency shelter. Up to ten church members or families prepare parts of the meal and bring it to the church, so no one family has to take on too much. Money from fund-raisers is used to provide socks and other necessities for the men. First Parish collects items like winter coats and non-perishable food for them. Volunteers take the meal and other contributions to the shelter. You can choose to prepare the meal only, or also help take the meal to the shelter, if you wish. Learn more at: www.smoc.org

Habitat for Humanity is dedicated to eliminating substandard housing locally and worldwide through constructing, rehabilitating and preserving homes; by advocating for fair and just housing policies; and by providing training and access to resources to help families improve their shelter conditions.  Habitat was founded on the conviction that every man, woman and child should have a simple, durable place to live in dignity and safety, and that decent shelter in decent communities should be a matter of conscience and action for all. Habitat homes are built completely through donations and volunteer labor. We are dedicated to building homes with families, not for them. First Parish currently participates financially and physically in building two affordable duplexes in Wayland. For more information visit www.habitat.org

Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) 
The Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) is a nonsectarian organization that advances human rights and social justice in the United States and around the world. We envision a world free from oppression and injustice, where all can realize their full human rights. First Parish supports a number of UUSC initiatives including biweekly Fair Trade coffee, tea and chocolate sales at Coffee Hour and “Guest at Your Table?” an annual collection of loose change to support UUSC initiatives. Learn more at: www.uusc.org

Green Sanctuary
First Parish in Wayland has been recognized by the UUA as a Green Sanctuary Congregation, in recognition of nearly a decade of work to increase our environmental awareness and stewardship. Through a range of activities, from composting to teaching adults and children about "green" practices to ensuring energy efficiency in our buildings, the Green Sanctuary Committee helps our congregation focus on the 7th Unitarian Universalist principle: Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part. You can learn more about our Green Sanctuary work here.

UU Urban Ministry Programs 
UU Urban Ministry has a rich 200-year history of community involvement. This ministry is rooted in direct experience and service with those in Boston who are struggling for decent lives. Today, efforts are concentrated in two areas: domestic violence and at-risk youth, especially those in the Roxbury area. Programs include Renewal House, a safe haven for women and their children who have experienced domestic violence; and Crossing Bridges, a Roxbury middle-school after-school program.  Learn more at: www.uuum.org

Partner Churches
First Parish has two partner churches abroad, one in Romania and one in India. We have partnered with the Unitarian Church in the small village of Pipe in the Transylvanian section of Romania for over ten years. The residents of Pipe are Hungarian-speaking Unitarians. Their minister, Jenei Csaba, also serves a congregation in Nades, a town downhill from Pipe where Csaba and his family live. (The Nades congregation is partnered with the UU congregation in Rockford, Illinois.) First Parish is also partnered with the Unitarian congregation in the small hill village of Wahmalein in the state of Meghalaya in the Khasi Hills of northeast India. It and three other congregations are served as preacher by Nangroi Suting. First Parish member Warren Bailey has made several visits to the town, as has First Parish member Suzanne Reitz and her family. When Nangroi was working for a year in the international office at the Unitarian Universalist Association in Boston, he was introduced at a Sunday service in Wayland, still prior to the churches' partnership.

Family Promise 
an organization committed to addressing homelessness, relies on the Metro West Interfaith Hospitality Network (IHN) -- to which First Parish belongs -- to offer temporary housing to homeless families in the Metro West area. Currently, our congregation supports other local IHN organizations that host families. In the past, First Parish also hosted families in the Parish House for three or four weeks a year. While hosting, the congregation provides meals, company, and support to the families in the evenings. Guests then spend their day at a day care facility where a Family Promise social worker helps them with obtaining housing, employment, and resources.  Learn more at:  www.familypromisemetrowest.org

The Sudbury-Wayland-Lincoln Domestic Violence Roundtable

The Roundtable is an all volunteer 501-c3 organization whose mission is to raise public awareness and provide information about all forms of abusive behaviors: bullying; ostracism; teen dating violence; violence in the context of marriages and committed partnerships; elder abuse; and pet abuse. The Roundtable sponsors a variety of educational programs and distributes resource materials to public buildings, businesses, professional offices and faith communities. As the Roundtable's name implies, it also provides a monthly opportunity for providers of services to exchange ideas and information about strategies for combating abusive behaviors. In addition, members hold collections to provide families in shelter and transitional housing with holiday gifts and household items needed to set up a new home after leaving a shelter. The website, www.domesticviolenceroundtable.org, also plays an important role in the Roundtable’s public education efforts.