Social Justice Ministries

Our Mission Statement

Recognizing  the interconnectedness of all Creation,

we seek to act for God's justice

and encourage our congregation

to participate in justice ministries.

"What does the Lord require of you

but to do justice, to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God." 

Micah 6:8

Economic Justice - Poverty is just one of the many evils that results from economic injustice. So, too, are inadequate wages and benefits.

 

Environmental Justice - Whether we admit it or not, the climate is definitely changing.  What, if anything, can we do about it?

Immigration Justice - Concern for the the stranger--the alien--is part of our Judeo-Christian social justice heritage.

Racial Justice - Racism has been called "America's original sin." What can be done to combat it?

 
Social Justuce Ministry Work

In the fall of 2020, the Leadership Team asked the Social Justice Ministry Team to review the Poor People’s Campaign (PPC) Fundamental Principles and their intersection with the work of the CUCC-PG. During 2020, the Social Justice Ministry (SJM) Team has read, discussed, compiled past actions and developed potential actions for our team and ideas to be brought to the congregation. We covered all policy principles in the Poor People’s Campaign document. This report includes initiatives by the Social Justice Team as well as congregation-wide actions. Our findings include but are not limited to the following.

 

Poor People’s Campaign

Part I. Establish Justice and End Systemic Racism: The Right to Democracy and Equal Protection Under the Law

  • SJM donated to the Florida Rights Restoration Act.

  • SJM created and presented a Social Justice Moment during worship service on voter rights issues.

  • Dr. Rick Gauthier, a Port Charlotte audiologist, presented a session on white privilege to the Living The Questions class. Several CUCC-PG members keep in touch with him. He has been part of a team advising local law enforcement on racial justice issues and may be a local resource for SJM on engaging them with the congregation.

  • Contributed to Coalition of Immokalee Workers for protection of immigrant farm workers against COVID 19.

  • SJM created and presented a Social Justice Moment during worship service, updating the situation at the Mexican board the and need for reform of immigration policy at the southern border. We have further local resources to engage the congregation on these issues.

  • Members of SJMT communicated and kept in contact with local public schools about the funding of lunch programs. A number of SJM members are public education professionals.

  • Congregants continue to support the Blanchard House and participate in the annual Martin Luther King Day breakfast and celebration. SJM members serve as readers for the annual Martin Luther King local school essay contest.

  • CUCC-PG's Leadership Team and Endowment Committee are taking action by establishing a scholarship fund for financially needy students. This aligns with the PPC policy point to establish justice and end systemic racism.

  • Several SJM members are participating in the United Church of Christ’s national program “Sacred Conversations to End Racism.”

 

Part II. Promote the General Welfare: The Right to Wellbeing and an Adequate Standard of Living

  • The congregation continues to support St. Vincent de Paul.

  • SJM has created and presented two social justice Moment during worship services on farmworker justice.

  • SJM and CUCC-PG have donated to the Coalition of Immokalee Workers in support of empowering farmworkers and improving Southwest Florida farmworker conditions.

  • SJM has met with leaders of the Immokalee Fair Housing Alliance to learn about and support their affordable housing project in Immokalee.

  • Plan a future Living the Questions presentation about health insurance by congregant Ron Jankowski..

  • Continue to write political office holders on behalf of implementing fair standards for the median cost of living and eligibility for assistance of federal programs

    • Redefining entitlement programs

    • Securing adequate housing for all during the pandemic

 

Part III. Ensure Domestic Tranquility: The Right to Work with Dignity

  • Donate to the RIP Medical Debt 501(c)3 organization that erases medical debt for those affected by the COVID pandemic. This organization is supported by the national United Church of Christ.

  • Continue to call and write political office holders on behalf of

    • Raising the minimum wage

    • Supporting the Green Jobs Corp

Part IV. Secure the Blessings of Liberty: The Right to Health and a Healthy Environment

  • Join the Citizens Climate Lobby.

  • SJM and CUCC-PG have sponsored two successful community forums with Nobel Prize winner Dr. Terry Root on U.S. and specifically Florida on climate change and our environment.

  • SJM has creating and presented two Social Justice Moment during worship services on environmental justice.

  • Continue to call and write political office holders on behalf of

    • Securing clean water for all Americans

    • Rebuilding and strengthening the U.S. infrastructure.

    • Advocating for 100% renewable energy

 

Part V. Provide for the Common Defense: Reprioritize Resources and Demilitarize our Communities.

  • SJM has participated in Punta Gorda police and clergy co-sponsored events and plans to invite the Punta Gorda Chief of Police to share with us local efforts in community policing.

  • Continue to call and write political office holders on behalf of supporting constructive efforts in conflict resolution.

Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW)

Support for the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and the Fair Food Program was the first "social action" of the Social Justice Ministries Committee, which began its work in December of 2017. This is a "shared" ministry with the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Charlotte County.  

An ongoing part of this ministry are the monthly protests that are held at a local Wendy's to heighten public awareness of the Fair Food Program and Wendy's continued resistance to participate.

On March 14, 2019, the CIW is mounted a protest at four universities around the country that have a supplier relationship with Wendy's.  One of the locations is the University of Florida in Gainesville.  Two members of the church attended the protest traveled with CIW members by bus.  Other members of the church as well as our Endowment Team provided donations to help offset travel expenses for the group.

Nobel Prize Winner Terri Root, Ph.D.

The Social Justice Team has been instrumental in bringing Nobel Prize Winner Terri Root, Ph.D., to our congregation not once,  not twice, but three times!  Over the years, she has stressed the importance of mankind's impact on climate and the environment.

Most recently, on January 25, 2020, Dr. Root provided an update on the state of climate change since her 2018 visit. This is the third time in as many years that Dr. Root has visited us, and   Click here to watch her 2020 presentation. 

In 2019, Dr. Root's presentation, "Innocent Victims: Impact of Plastics on Wildlife," was in partnership with other environmentally-conscious groups, including the Citizens' Climate Lobby (Port Charlotte-Punta Gorda Chapter), Environmental Indivisible (a sub-group of Indivisible), Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program, Peace River Wildlife Center (which displayed some rescue birds), and The Last Straw.  Dr. Root's research while at Stanford University addressed how plants and animals are changing with the changing climate.  Her presentation encouraged us to use less plastics, especially single-use plastics, because of their impact on wildlife and, ultimately, us.  The event was well received with 125+ attendees, who appreciated the message, door prizes and refreshments.  Our thanks to the CUCC-PG Endowment Committee for their financial support of this event.  You can see her speech by following the link below:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qhoDDcvVmslwGF7cMVNxd7rF7LNCYcYz/view?usp=sharing

Peoples-Climate-March.jpg

On April 21, 2018, Dr. Terri Root enlightened the community on the problems of "Changing Climate."  You can see her 2018 speech by following the links below:

 

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1TYgSLI_bq6tu7qO2uJePrzmk-ZSnRHpj/view?usp=sharing

https://drive.google.com/file/d/1FIiWe1CqlvdUwpnbldbKsbPDRz8n5x1O/view?usp=sharing

"Reclaiming Faith, Hope And Justice"
A Presentation by Natosha Reed Rice

On November 10, 2018, we had the privilege of listening to and interacting with Natosha Reid Rice, Associate General Counsel, Habitat for Humanity International, Inc., and Associate Pastor, Ebenezer Baptist Church, Atlanta, Georgia.  She travels around the world speaking out on behalf of the historically disadvantaged.  She shared some words of wisdom for our community. You can watch her speech by clicking on this link:

https://drive.google.com/open?id=1qZ9UTYVK9xAsVHHUKMhsaWiXGzy23Ezp