Justice Actions

Justice ACTion Focus Groups

The South Carolina UU Justice Alliance is actively learning from UUs and partners, and organizing around pressing issues. Check out the issue areas below:

We are seeking leaders/co-leaders for these areas:

Check out the highlights below to discover some of

what we are learning from partners across the state.

Image above: Aiken congregation gathered around Blessing Box 2.0

The Aiken UU Church has selected a Christmas project to help homeless students in the area. The Aiken County Public School coordinator for the federal homeless student program noted that the greatest need her students have is for toiletries. Aiken UU’s will provide thirty homeless youth toiletry kits including regular sized shampoo and body wash, toothbrush and toothpaste, sponges, lotion, hand sanitizer, Chapstick, deodorant, and a gift card to Subway.

Members continue their work with the Aiken Homeless Coalition, Family Promise, Jesus Loves Me Ministry, and the Golden Harvest Food Bank. Recently, the church provided a meal to the participants in the Family Promise Keys to Good Tenancy Course. Once a month the church provides sandwiches for the Jesus Loves Me Ministry to the homeless. Over the summer, the church launched and completed a Blessing Box 2.0 project. The church established the Blessing Box right outside the church entrance as a place where the houseless and others could pick up non-perishable food items at any time. Wanting to provide more items and fresh vegetables and fruits, the 2.0 Blessing Box now includes a refrigerator, a place for literature, and space for non-perishable items such as pet food, diapers, and hygiene products. Church members partner with local food banks, especially the Golden Harvest Food Bank, to obtain food. The box is constantly used and constantly replenished!

Aiken UUs also support many other activities and groups including PFLAG, the Aiken County NAACP, and the Green Sanctuary project. Find out more at the UUCA Social Justice Page here at this link.

Clayton Memorial UU Church became the first Sanctuary Congregation in South Carolina in 2018. When they announced their decision at a public meeting at the end of 2018, their pastor at the time, Rev. Michelle Robinson, shared the following statement:

“For decades now, under the leadership of both parties, our country has conducted incoherent and often unjust immigration policy. In order to fulfill a principal of our faith, which affirms the inherent worth and dignity of every person, and to carry out its call to challenge injustice with courage, we are today announcing Clayton Memorial Unitarian Universalist Church is a sanctuary church. Our intention is to offer sanctuary to a few carefully selected individuals from the immigrant community who have been ordered deported, and we feel have not received the full benefit of due process of the law.”

The congregation has already offered sanctuary to at least one family, although they chose another option. They remain committed to being a Sanctuary Congregation.

Greenville UU Fellowship

The Greenville Unitarian Universalist Fellowship (GUUF) Social Justice Committee focuses on three areas: environmental justice, immigrant justice, and economic justice. Due to the pandemic, the committee is focusing on local actions. Congregational members bring food donations to the church six times a year. The church then partners with United Ministries, Jesus el Rey, Upstate Food Not Bombs, and other justice organizations to distribute the food collected. They are also able to help houseless families (in partnership with United Ministries) through their Rowland-McFerrin House. This duplex houses families in transition who live rent free for up to a year and then move on to settled housing. Other activities include participation in Adopt a Highway Clean-Up (see image).

GUUF is a founding member of the newly formed Greenville County Interfaith Justice Network, an organization of 16-plus Greenville area churches devoted to justice issues. This organization is part of DART (Direct Action & Research Training), whose mission is “to engage congregations in doing justice.” Greenville now joins Columbia (MORE Justice—Midlands Organized Response for Equality and Justice) and Charleston (CAJM—Charleston Area Justice Ministry) in having DART in their communities. While the first major planning meeting of the Greenville DART will happen in the fall, conversation has begun on Greenville County issues such as houselessness, transportation, and the need for affordable housing.

The Unitarian Church of Charleston was in the 156th Emancipation Proclamation parade on Jan 1 in Charleston. The Black Community in Charleston has been holding this parade since 1865.

Charleston Area Justice Ministry (CAJM): The Unitarian Church in Charleston is an active member of CAJM, a local DART chapter. Through vital community organizing, the church and other local organizations chose an environmental justice focus for collective action in 2022.

Habitat for Humanity: The Social Justice Committee thanks the generosity of our church community and the leadership of our new minister Rev. Rebecca Hinds for the successful giving campaign for Habitat for Humanity. Donations collected during the month of October were $10,290! This is a record-breaking amount and reflects the values of our congregation.

Backpack Buddies: Our first Backpack Buddies of the year went very well with 900 bags packed in a little over two hours. Special thanks to: Krystina Deren, Bob Hawley, Jackie McGee, Lisa Ross, Terry Walsh, Cassie Williamson and Christine Williamson.

Refugee Team: The team and church is supporting an immigrant named Ana and her family seeking asylum in the US. We celebrate that Ana now has a work card and continue support as she seeks green card for her children.

Find out more at the Charleston UU Social Justice Page here at this link.

The UU Church of Spartanburg has a multifaceted and intersectional approach to social justice. Check out the links below for recent actions.

Call To Support Latinx immigrants

The UU Church in Spartanburg is part of a coalition to support Latinx immigrants across SC during the pandemic. Comprised of immigrant advocacy groups from across the state, the coalition has assisted more than 1,500 individuals with financial support for rent, mortgage, and utilities since April 2020. A detailed report about the project may be read here.

We need your help. The coalition has received a set of grants that challenge us to reach immigrants in some of the most rural counties in SC. If you have connections in these counties--through family, friends, business, service agencies, or congregations--that might be able to help us reach Latinx immigrants there, please share this information with them. We have found personal connections to be the best way to connect with people who may benefit from these resources. This flyer may be downloaded and shared with anyone who might benefit from the assistance we offer. Please share it broadly.

We are trying to reach Latinx immigrants in the following counties: Abbeville | Allendale | Bamberg | Barnwell | Cherokee | Chester | Clarendon | Darlington | Dillon | Fairfield | Florence | Greenwood | Kershaw | Lancaster | Lee | Marion | Marlboro | Orangeburg | Saluda | Sumter | Union | Williamsburg | York

For more information and for any questions, don't hesitate to reach out to us directly: Scott Neely (he/him), Minister, minister@uucs.org / 864-585-9230, www.uucs.org

2021 was a busy fall for the UU Congregation of Columbia Social Action Committee. First came the celebration of the Columbia Pride Parade. Our congregation’s participation was a public reaffirmation of our stance as a welcoming congregation, and a true celebration. A final flip was that the energy and creativity of our members was rewarded when footage of our float led at least one local TV station’s coverage of the event!

From there we have pivoted to the UUSC’s “Guest at your table” fundraiser, which funds worthy projects around the world, and the Palmetto Project’s seasonal “Families Helping Families” program, which supports needy families during the holiday season. Both campaigns are currently ongoing.

Find out more at the UUCC Social Action Page here at this link.

Social and Environmental Justice at UUFB

Beaufort has an active and engaged Social and Environmental Justice Committee (SEJ). They have a justice committee model where various justice issues in the community have champions on their committee. These champions work closely with one or more of the nine non-profit organizations: Citizens’ Climate Lobby, Family Promise, Habitat for Humanity, Hopeful Horizons, Marshview Farms, Penn Center, Second Helping, Planned Parenthood, and Thumbs Up. Each of these is described in more detail on their website: https://uubeaufort.org/sej/ They also have a process where they can use part of their annual budget for sudden emergencies. In March the committee voted unanimously to send $1,200.00 to Ukrainian relief through the UU Service Committee Emergency Relief Fund. This is a heartfelt response to the humanitarian crisis in Ukraine, as its people respond to the large-scale Russian invasion.

SEJ also participates in various community events such as the Martin Luther King Day Parade, Peace Vigils, LBGTQ advocacy, and more.

Clemson UU Works to End Racism and Reduce Polarization. In a time of ever-increasing polarization, the UU Fellowship of Clemson is an active leader in anti-racism and inclusion in the Upstate of SC. They initiated and have been working on the Clemson Area Pledge to End Racism (CAPER) for over three years. Learn about CAPER here.

In the spring, Clemson UU’s social action committee will hold Braver Angels workshops for the congregation. Braver Angels works to reduce political polarization between groups such as liberals and conservatives, red and blue political groups, and rural and urban divides. Once the workshops conclude they will use small group work to spread the message further.

Clemson UU will also begin the process of renewing their Welcoming Status with the UUA. Find out more about Clemson UU’s community building and service of justice here!

Partner Organizations

South Carolina Appleseed Legal Justice Center is a forceful and respected advocate for low-income South Carolinians on issues such as health care, immigration, reentry issues, housing, education, hunger, public benefits, domestic violence, and consumer issues.

SC Appleseed is dedicated to affecting systemic change wherever we can do the most good — in and through the courthouse, legislature, administrative agencies, community and the media. We grow our impact by helping others do the same through education, training and co-counseling.

For more information about our current projects, read the latest about our Focus Issues on our blog.