Standing with Amherst Congregation on Feb.12, 2012 for "30 Days of Love!"The Unitarian Society of Northampton & Florence chooses to stand on the side of love, joining with hundreds of other UU congregations, as well as other faith communities, in harnessing love's power to stop oppression. The presence of this national UU campaign is manifest at USNF in many ways: from the pulpit, in multi-generational activities, and in our presence at the annual Pride march. In the coming year, our presence will be even more visible in collaborations with UUs from the Amherst UU Society, an immigration panel, taking part in the UUA's Commonread, and larger representation from our congregation at the Justice General Assembly in Phoenix, Arizona in June, 2012. Standing on the Side of Love is not a committee – it is a work in progress, it is the opportunity to see the choices we make in the light of Love, and to take a clear loving stance in favor of justice on local and national issues. To learn more or get involved, email
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Rapid Response Teams: Standing on the Side of Love
“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.” Ryunosuke Satoro
The social safety net is unraveling. The most vulnerable are most impacted. In our community, this often means that undocumented immigrants have access to fewer services/supports and/or are afraid to access them out of fear that might be detained or deported.
In response to this, we have formed a Rapid Response Team (RRT), in cooperation with Casa Latina.
We broke bread together, then watched the PBS Frontline documentary, "Lost in Detention." Speakers included: from Alliance to Develop Power, continuing our congregation's relationship with this empowerment organization. Their deputy director, William Cano, spoke about their work and his appreciation of our reaching out and connecting with ADP as an ally. Jaymes Winnell, of the American Friends Service Committee of Western MA talked about that organization's efforts against the federal Secure Communities Initiative. And Jesse Jaeger, director of UU Mass Action, spoke about the immigration justice work he is helping congregations coordinate, as well as talked about Justice General Assembly later this year.
The group asked questions and identified possible next steps. We learned that there is a location in Greenfield that is used for detentions by Immigraiton & Customs Enforcement (ICE). Among those present were folks from Connecticut who spoke about a 64-year-old Indonesian man, decades in that community, who was recently detained -- they are advocating for his release. We spoke about connecting with more local congregations -- Greenfield, Springfield -- to grow our capacity to respond to ICE's moving detainees from one locale to another without notice, leaving their family members unknowing as to their location. UU Mass Action is planning trainings in the fall for congregations -- let's take part.
Jesse -- from UU Mass Action -- called us "trail blazers" among UU congregations for the work we have already done! We have been asked to attend the district event in Worcester to share with other congregations the work we have done in coalition building so far. Our next meeting is taking place at USNF -- probably in the Great Hall -- on Sunday, March 11 at 11:30 (it's a single service that day). Please come along to help us. Questions? Email Karen at
The event, planned for several months by members of both congregations, mirrored ones that were in the works by the local district, so this event was advertised not only through Standing on the Side of Love, but also through district marketing.
On January 26th, SOSOL will host a teach-in about the National Defense Authorization Act. The teach-in will be discussing the effects of the NDAA and will also go over a resolution to be introduced to the City Council at their next meeting that refutes the civil rights violations the NDAA brings.
On October 16th, USNF hosted a joint service with the Unitarian Universalist Society of Amherst and guest speakers, followed by a lunch, discussion of the UUA Common Read book and a conversation about next steps. Moving and thought-provoking the service and discussion were wonderful opportunities for our two congregations to come together.
Be a part of immigration justice in our own backyard! Standing on the Side of Love has been supporting a local campaign that has been advocating for immigration reform. These initiatives to preserve our civil rights include the Northampton City Council vote to opt out of the federal Secure Communities program. For more information, please see this letter from the American Friends Service Committee, and the resolution which will come before the City Council on August 18th. Consider calling your ward councilor about this issue, and please attend the August 18th City Council meeting. For more information on the resolution and other local civil rights initiatives, visit http://www.preservingcivil rights.org/ or email