Unitarian Universalism

Justice in the Middle East (JME) is a group of members of the Main Line Unitarian Church who work to promote peace and justice in Israel-Palestine. JME affirms the right to equality, dignity, freedom, and security of all peoples involved.

Education and discussion within our congregation and in our community are important contributions toward the goal of justice. Accordingly, we strive to inform people instead of trying to form their beliefs. We also promote political action in support of justice, based on our understandings and beliefs..

We provide films, presentations, speakers and an opportunity for dialog at MLUC.  We are affiliated with the national UU group UUJME. Please contact if you want additional information. Suggestions are welcome.  We are always looking for interesting programs.


Past Events

 Friday, October 10, 7:00 p.m.

The Law in These Parts - Film and Discussionposter-english in the McGuinness Room

This documentary is an unprecedented exploration of the evolving and little-known legal framework that Israel has employed to administer its 40-year military occupation of the West Bank and, until 2005, the Gaza Strip. It won the Best Documentary award at the 2011 Jerusalem Film Festival and the World Cinema Grand Jury Prize in Documentary at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival. Celebrated Israeli filmmaker Ra’anan Alexandrowicz elicits this story from the very military judges, prosecutors and legal advisors who helped create the system and who agreed to take the cinematic witness chair to explain their choices. These interviews combined with archival footage, create a comprehensive and evocative portrait of one of the world’s most stubborn and enduring conflicts.

The film asks some crucial questions that are often skirted: Can such an occupation be achieved within a legal framework that includes genuine adherence to the principles of rule-of-law? What are the costs that a society engaged in such a long term exercise must bear? Can a modern democracy impose a prolonged military occupation on another people while retaining its core democratic values? The Law in These Parts reveals not only the legal architecture of military occupation, but also its human impact on both Palestinians and Israelis.

 

watsonSunday, February 19, 12:30 p.m.

Waking Up to Shatter the Silence

All are invited to the McGinness Room for a video screening of Hanan Watson's award-winning sermon from the 2011 General Assembly in North Carolina. "Waking Up to Shatter the Silence" was the winning entry for the Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East’s (UUJME) contest, which had the theme "Why are UU congregations reluctant to discuss the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and how can they overcome this reluctance to help our faith community contribute more meaningfully to the cause of peace and justice for Israelis and Palestinians?"

Hanan Watson, of All Souls Unitarian Church in New York City, was chosen to present her moving sermon at GA 2011. Watson was born in Jerusalem to Palestinian Christian Arab parents and in 1948 became one of the 750,000 refugees from the newly established State of Israel. She earned Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees from the American University of Beirut. After moving to New York in 1966, she worked in the executive search field until retiring to devote herself to volunteer work.

 

Thursday, March 1
morningsinjeninMornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa
Potluck Dinner in the Fireside Room at 6:00 p.m. followed by an author presentation at 7:00.

Each year the MLUC Social Action Leadership Council recommends a book that corresponds with a social justice issue of interest and relevance to the entire congregation. The choice for 2012 is Mornings in Jenin, a novel by Susan Abulhawa.  On Thursday, March 1, the author will join us for a potluck dinner with book discussion to follow.  All are welcome to attend. Copies of the book are available for purchase in the MLUC book cabinet.

This novel is the story of four generations of a Palestinian family exiled from their village and their struggles during the over 60 years of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The story takes us from the Jenin refugee camp to Jerusalem, to Lebanon and to the anonymity of America.  The human voices of this riveting story encourage us to take another look at one of the defining political conflicts of our lifetime.

Susan Abulhawa was born to refugees of the Six-Day War and moved to the United States as a teenager. She is a resident of Philadelphia and founded Playgrounds for Palestine, an NGO that builds playgrounds for Palestinian children in refugee camps and in the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

 

Recent Film Screenings

Budrus
An award-winning feature documentary film about a Palestinian community organizer

Amreeka
Journey into the lives of Palestinian immigrants

Beyond Belief
The story of two pregnant 9/11 widows

Sentenced Home
Cambodian refugees growing up in America

Very Young Girls
The tragedy of human trafficking

 


Resources

For more information about these issues, visit:

Unitarian Universalists for Justice in the Middle East

Two Peoples One Future

Jewish Voice for Peace

Foundation for Middle East Peace 

American Muslims for Palestine

Unitarian Universalists for Reproductive Justice

Many people have no choice when it comes to these most basic of human rights:

  • To have or not have children
  • To raise their family in a safe and healthy environment
  • To express their sexuality without fear of oppression

Reproductive Justice addresses these inequities, believing these rights should not be determined by your race, gender, income, or sexuality, and encompasses reproductive healthcare and the availability of services, as well as rights and legislation.

UU's for Reproductive Justice (UURJ) at MLUC provides education and training sessions for escorting at Planned Parenthood Clinics, and currently provides approximately 15 escorts at the clinics each week. There are also movies and speakers throughout the year.

The UUPLAN (Unitarian Universalists of PA Legislative Advocacy Network) Reproductive Justice Team consists of UU's across Pennsylvania, and partners with different RJ organizations such as Planned Parenthood and PA RCRJ (PA Religious Coalition for Reproductive Justice). Together, they work on advocacy with state and federal legislators on RJ issues. Currently, they are working on the PA Agenda for Women's Health and preparing for a lobby day.

 


 

Contact

UUs for Reproductive Justice at MLUC
Laura Wright
UUPLAN Reproductive Justice
Judy Wilson

UURJ Facebook Page

greenchaliceA Green Sanctuary is a Congregation that has received official recognition from the Unitarian Universalist Association for completing the Green Sanctuary Program. Lives out its commitment to the Earth by creating sustainable lifestyles for its members as individuals and as a faith community.

MLUC is committed to creating a religious community that has a fundamental, bottom-line, commitment to living in harmony with the Earth.

Learn what you can do with other UUs to promote climate justice. Visit Commit2Respond.org

Green Stripers

Since our church was designated a "Green Sanctuary" by the UUA Ministry for Earth in 2003, we have looked for ways to help save the Earth's resources while saving money as well.

MLUC Member, Mary Kane, as a part of the ECO/Green Sanctuary group, decided to make three or four aprons from green striped materials for volunteers to wear, and asked people to cover one coffee hour a month putting out the reusable ceramic cups every Sunday for both services and washing them afterwards. Thus the Green Stripers were established and have saved the church thousands of dollars in paper and plastic products.

We hope to continue our mission of saving the Earth's resources in every area of the church - and by extension - making people aware and encouraging them to use "reusable" items at home and elsewhere. Contact Mary Kane if you'd like to be a part of this group. You'll receive free coffee for your efforts!

Climate Action Teams

A Climate Action Team is a group working in their congregation and community specifically to combat climate change and its negative impacts. A Team keeps its congregation aware of current climate change issues and generates involvement in efforts to mitigate climate change. Choose suggested activities and use existing programs and resources, or make up your own! Join the MLUC Climate Action Team, a part of the MLUC Green Sanctuary Program, by emailing .

Mission Statement

The mission of Green Sanctuary at MLUC is to explore what it means to live within a religious community on an imperiled Earth, and join in efforts, both symbolic and explicit, to becoming stewards of the Earth.

Following guidelines originally set down by the Unitarian Universalist Ministry For Earth, our mission has been to provide information to the congregation and the nearby community about dangerous challenges to our precious Earth's air, water, and land. We have done this through speakers, videos, and workshops, as well as outreach events with local organizations and places of worship.

Our goals are to increase awareness of environmental issues, deepen the connection between spiritual practice and earthly realities, encourage personal lifestyle change, increase community action on our "Seventh Principle" issues, and work to heal environmental injustices.

History

The ECO group (Earth Concerns Organization) was founded at MLUC in 1990. They started raising awareness of recycling and composting, and created a play about the "Death of the Earth" with Chief Seattle speaking in the cosmos to all the endangered animals. They offered a course in "Deep Ecology."

In 2003, the group evolved into Green Sanctuary as the congregration earned that designation from the UUA. EarthFest was the huge outreach to the community that year, with 83 groups presenting exhibits on topics such as Community Sponsored Agriculture, Zoo on Wheels, Solar Model houses, and new hybrid cars, among others.

For three years, MLUC teamed up with other churches for the annual Wayne Memorial Day Parade to demonstrate being green.

All-church service events often take an environmental theme, such as planting trees and cleaning streams.

In 2012, Green Sanctuary offered an adult religious education course, "Our Place in the Web of Life," as part of the church's Pathway of Spiritual Maturity.

Recently, Green Sanctuary has offered speakers and films on Genetically Modified Food and labeling, hosted forums on Marcellus Shale and fracking, and even had a presentation on Green Burials.

varfalva 191x280MLUC is proud to be partnered with the Várfalva Unitarian Church. Our partnership began in 1992 and continues to be renewed through visits and regular communication. In 2002, the members and friends of our church signed a covenant promising “to nurture a partnership based on friendship, respect, and mutual support.” For more information, contact Jon Bass.

 

MLUC Articles in Partner Church News partner

An article written by MLUC member Barbara Weber entitled, "Experience the Partnership: Planning a Visit from Our Partners," was published in the Winter 2014 issue of Partner Church News. The piece reminds us of our wonderful visit and offers a blueprint for other congregations that are planning visits by delegations from their partner churches.

An article written by Jonathan Bass, former committee chair of MLUC's Partner Church Committee, was accepted for publication in the Spring 2014 issue of Partner Church News. Jon's article, "400 Years As Unitarians," details some of the experiences from a pilgrimage to Várfalva in August 2013

Pilgrimage

In August 2013, thirteen MLUC members enjoyed a pilgrimage to Transylvania, Romania, to explore the roots of Unitarianism. Travelers spent four days visiting with the members of our Partner Church in their homes in Várfalva and joined them in a traditional village celebration, led by the Unitarian bishop of Transylvania, of the 400th anniversary of the use of the word "Unitarian" on their church. A carved oak plaque showing the Várfalva church and the inscription was given to us as a gift during this trip.

VarfalvaThe pilgrims also visited the city of Kolozsvár, where the Transylvanian Unitarian Church has its headquarters and students from Várfalva attend high school. They saw the rock where Francis David stood when he “converted the whole town’s population to Unitarianism.” And they visited the city of Törda, where the first act of religious tolerance in Europe was signed in 1568, and Gyulafehérvár, where the Unitarian king Sigismund is entombed in a thousand-year old cathedral.

 


IMG 1376

Barbara Weber, a member of the Partner Church Committee,
helps children from the MLUC church school prepare messages
for the children of the Várfalva Unitarian Church on a Faith in
Action Sunday.

History of Várfalva

varfalva 241x163The Várfalva church was the first in Transylvania to take the name “Unitarian,” not long after King John II Sigismund of Hungary issued the Edict of Torda in 1568, the first known guarantee of religious freedom in Europe. Transylvania, once a separate principality and later a region of Hungary, was ceded to Romania after World War I. The congregation of our partner church speaks Hungarian and retains their Hungarian culture.

Unitarianism traces its roots to 16th-century Transylvania. There, a theologian named Francis David converted the king and much of the population to a radical theology that espoused the oneness of God and the humanity of Jesus and held up reason and tolerance as the pillars of its faith. Our Unitarian brothers and sisters in Transylvania have suffered centuries of persecution that began after the death of King John II Sigismund, but they have kept their faith.

Today, some 60,000 Unitarians live in Transylvania. Many of their approximately 120 churches are paired with a UU partner church. Although their religious beliefs and church services are more traditional than ours, we all share some basic values and principles:

The use of reason in matters of faith

Belief in absolute freedom of conscience

Tolerance of differing opinions

The villages, towns, and cities of Transylvania, an area about the size of the state of Indiana, are set in a lovely hilly and forested landscape. The people open their hearts and homes to their partners in faith from across the ocean. Many Unitarian families farm land that has been passed down for generations. They still struggle to recover from the effects of more than 40 years of rule by Communists, who oppressed all religious groups but especially Unitarians because of their Hungarian ancestry and their devotion to freedom of thought.

Unitarian Universalist Partner Church Council

uupcclogo 192x105Soon after the collapse of the Communist government of Romania in 1989, informal connections between Unitarian churches in Transylvania and Unitarian Universalist churches in other countries began to strengthen. Several Unitarian Universalist congregations formed relationships with particular churches in Transylvania. In 1993, the Partner Church Council grew out of the Unitarian Universalist Association to help coordinate resources and connections between North American churches and those overseas, which now include churches in other Eastern European countries, India, and the Philippines.

Congregations in long-term international partnerships enjoy close friendships and spiritual growth. For more than 15 years, Unitarian Universalists in Canada and the United States have made friends worldwide, helping to build the global community of Unitarian Universalists. Each partnership expresses the values and vision of the two churches that come together.

Here are some examples of what partners do:

Exchange visits and sermons in each other’s church

Work together on community projects, such as water systems for clean, reliable water

Share religious services, histories, and traditions

Work together to provide economic opportunities, such as a dairy operation

Build and repair churches and parsonages

Address community needs, such as a medical clinic

Develop communication systems and letter-writing partners

Service Learning Trips to HaitiIMG 0393
Our congregation has participated in three Unitarian Universalist College of Social Justice service learnig trips to Haiti. 

Read tales from MLUC members' 2016 trip to Haiti in our Letters From Haiti series:

 

More information about UU service learning trips is available at uucsj.org.

If you are interested in learning about upcoming or past trips, contact Nuala Carpenter .