History

Founding

SCUUJA formed in 2021 to build an alliance of South Carolina Unitarian Universalists acting for justice in partnerships that center the voices and authority of people experiencing injustice, especially BIPOC, LGBTQ, immigrant, and houseless people. SCUUJA provides mutual support of social action among UUs and partners in SC, capacity-building for sustained multicultural partnerships for social action, engaged faith-based allies, and a SC UU community thriving in justice.

The Alliance is funded in part by the Fund for Unitarian Universalist Social Responsibility

Back Story

There are 10 UU congregations in SC. Those congregations with ministers who are members of the UU Ministers Association can participate in the two ministerial clusters: the Coastal Cluster and the Western Carolinas Cluster. Pippin and Jean began reaching out to UU churches and partners in summer, 2021 and were soon connected with Rick Hahnenberg of the Spartanburg Church who had been making inquiries about the SC state action network. By early September they had convened 3 meetings among UUs and several with potential nonprofit partners to explore the potential for submitting a grant to the Fund for UU Social Responsibility. In the early days, eight churches engaged the meetings and expressed enthusiastic support.

In early meetings, Pippin and Jean found that most congregations were maintaining a focus on local and charitable activities, with limited capacity to engage with other churches’ activities or statewide issues. It was noted that the legacy of racism and classism in SC created cultures rooted in regional isolation (e.g., Upstate, Midlands, and Lowcountry). The structure of UUA districts and subsequent ministerial clusters followed these long-held divisions and exacerbated the divide.

This history presents barriers to sustained relationships and impactful social action in SC. Yet, our conversations among 8 churches showed much enthusiasm for bridging divides and connecting efforts. Recognizing that overcoming these barriers will require sustained leadership, the founding team prioritized seeking grant funding before a formal launch. With the support of Spartanburg UU Church as fiscal agent, we submitted a startup grant for the launch in September...which brings us to 2022 ready to launch with a one year startup grant in hand!