June 30, 2023
Last week’s General Assembly was a meaningful yet challenging time for many Unitarian Universalists, including those of us on the Board of Trustees. While we were able to advance some significant priorities—including continuing the conversation about the proposed revisions to the Article II bylaws—we also heard some painful accusations regarding the Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) intentions and efforts connected to climate justice.
We want to reiterate that the UUA Board of Trustees is committed to continuing our pursuit of climate justice, both within the UUA and in society at large, working alongside our staff. As we stated at General Assembly, the reason many of us serve on the Board is to align our values with all of our work, to become the strongest and most authentic and powerful movement we can be.
In 2014, young adult delegates at General Assembly led the UUA toward divesting the UU Common Endowment Fund from 200 major fossil fuel companies. The UUA has fulfilled the commitments of that resolution. We want to name our appreciation for the young adults of our movement who have brought such vision and passion to this critical issue and who continue to move our thinking—and actions—forward.
In addition, in 2018, the Association designated climate justice as one of the key priorities of the Side With Love organizing effort. Through the Create Climate Justice initiative, Side With Love is doing valuable work on the ground every day with communities most impacted by the climate crisis. The UUA’s Green Sanctuary 2030: Mobilizing for Climate Justice supports congregations to center justice in their climate actions.
We know that efforts to create a more just world, one that acknowledges the devastating harm that climate change is bringing to frontline communities, must prioritize the needs of these communities. We remain committed to working in partnership to address both urgent and long-term needs, and we must still do more to resolve the climate crisis—and bring about a world where clean energy is a right and all beings thrive. We know that the quality of life for everyone is sacred.
As we have pledged to do, we will continue this work because we know that UUs are integral to that effort. To that end, the UUA has already begun conversations through the UU Climate Justice Coalition, a network of our UU organizations who are collaborating on climate work to discuss how we can move forward in ways that achieve the climate justice goals we all share.
Recognizing the intersectional framework of climate justice, we have also begun conversations about reparations for past harms from the UUA and its predecessors, as called for by the Commission on Institutional Change’s 2020 report, Widening the Circle of Concern. We are committed to continuing those in a robust and meaningful way so that we engage our entire movement in them.
We know that we need to do more to engage Unitarian Universalists on these issues, especially as related to climate justice. To do so, we are planning to launch extended conversations this fall with UUs of all ages and UU groups that are deeply engaged in climate justice work. A tremendous amount of work needs to take place to achieve our goals, and we know that we can only do that work when we are engaged in robust conversation and collaboration. While the Board will be taking personal time during July, we will be back in touch about these plans in the coming weeks.
We want to express again our thanks to the generations of young adults and climate activists who have continued to move our work forward for their commitment and advocacy for this critical issue of our time. They must be an integral part of the ongoing discussion about solutions.
We want you to know we are here precisely because we are committed to doing this work. We will do it, and our incoming president, the Rev. Dr. Sofía Betancourt, has already committed as well. Our UU community and faith tradition are a force for creating lasting climate justice and equity. We renew our call from GA — Let’s do it together, all of us.
Your UUA Board of Trustees
Rev. Meg Riley and Charles Du Mond, Co-Moderators
Barbara de Leeuw
Rev. Suzanne Fast
Rev. Sherman Logan
Rev. Elizabeth Mount
Rev. Dr. Adam Robersmith
Rev. Justine Sullivan
Rev. Sam Trumbore
Rev. Amanda Weatherspoon