Social Justice Web

"Living out our UU principles through advocacy
and acts of compassionate service"

The Social Justice Web is an umbrella group consisting of all the issue advocacy and service groups in the congregation. We support each other by:

  • Coordinating our calendars to make sure that educational forums, meeting and other programs don't conflict
  • Collaborating with the minister to determine the recipients of our weekly split-plate Sunday offering
  • Providing advice and mentoring to individuals or groups who wish to start a new advocacy or service groups
  • Working together to make sure that all of our programs are adequately funded and well-attended
  • Seeking ways for groups to work together on issues that are complex and cross into more than one area of concern
  • Collaborating on publicity and fund raising

Issue Advocacy Groups

Economic Justice/Occupy UU

Occupy UU began in 2011 in solidarity with the National and International Occupy movements. Our interest is in economic and social justice. The results of our work have led to the purchase of a banner stating First UU Society of Burlington support for economic justice, a march down Church Street, some UU members playing the "Money Game," during which they learned how different bartering exchange is from money exchange, and sponsoring forums on issues such as the Citizens United decision.

contact person: Cheryl Haller

earth dayGreen Sanctuary

The members of the Green Sanctuary task force covenant with one another to commit to personal and community action to confront environmental degradation with a special focus on the climate change crisis. We envision that each and every member and friend of the congregation will orient their individual lifestyles, resources, and behaviors in all their affairs toward building a more environmentally-friendly world.

We envision that our community will be a catalyst for sustainable change and a sanctuary of support for an uncertain future. With the foundation of the UU Seventh Principle, which is “Respect for the interdependent web of all existence of which we are a part,” and the support of our spiritual practices, we remain ever hopeful, ever determined, and ever impassioned for this cause.

contact person: Maeve McBride

Animal Ministry

UU Animal Ministry is a group of concerned Unitarian Universalists and UU friends whose compassion and faith encourage us to promote a just world for all our fellow creatures, human and animal alike. We believe that all life is interconnected. By uplifting the lives of our animal friends, we uplift our own lives as well. There is a shared sense of joy within our group, knowing that the enlightening and fun activities we create help in some way to make a better world.

contact person: Janet Schneider

Anti-Racism Action

The goal of the Anti-Racism Action Committee is to acknowledge and affirm the dignity of all humankind. We emphasize the role of education in achieving this goal. We offer educational programs to help us as we strive to embrace diversity. We also offer monetary grants to community organizations to fund projects promoting diversity in our schools. By supporting and celebrating the creativity of our youth we hope to bring about changes that make us all more accepting and welcoming of multiculturalism and diversity.

contact person: Dave Clark

Denominational Affairs

The Denominational Affairs Committee supports the work of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC) that advances social and economic justice in the United States and around the world. Every November the committee launches UUSC's "Guest at Your Table" program that helps heal people affected by disasters, promotes workers' rights and a living wage, rebuilds communities with sustainable access to water/food/livelihood, and advances civil liberties and democratic processes.

The committee also supports social justice efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA), especially Congregational Study/Action Issues (CSAIs) like "Peacemaking" and "Immigration as a Moral Issue." The most recent study/action issue of the committee focusing on immigration led us to the vital social and economic justice work of Migrant Justice on behalf of Vermont farmworkers.

contact person: David Conrad

Welcoming Congregation

The Welcoming Congregation task force was created in order to insure that our congregation would be intentionally inclusive of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender persons. The completion of that program years ago afforded us the official designation as a Welcoming Congregation.

The First UU Society of Burlington was active in advocacy for marriage equality in Vermont. Currently, we partner with other community organizations to support events such as the yearly Stonewall Commemoration, the Pride Vermont's Parade and Interfaith Service, and the Transgender Day of Remembrance.

contact person: Danielle Rochford

Groups that Deliver Services to People in Need

The Joint Urban Ministry Project (JUMP)

The First UU Society joins 25 Chittenden County faith communities in the Joint Urban Ministry Project (JUMP) to provide funds for food, transportation, utilities, laundry, and clothing and to supply bags of food and personal items to JUMP clients. The First UU Society commits volunteers for the drop-in center, board and committee members to run it, and financial contributions to meet increasing client needs.

contact person: Ginger Hobbs

Food Shelf

We at the First UU Society of Burlington support Food Salvage, a University of Vermont student initiative. The students prepare a Sunday supper at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf for the hungry. When the students are on vacation, the First UU Society volunteers step up to perform this service. Volunteers arrive at 4:30 p.m. to set up tables and chairs, make salads and sandwiches, prepare main dishes and vegetables. Dinner is served at 5:30 p.m. and clean-up is completed by 6:30 p.m. Homemade protein-rich casserole, vegetable and dessert donations are always welcome and appreciated.

Bridget Meyer
Susie DeBrosse

Vermont Interfaith Action

Members of the First UU Society have had a close working relationship with Vermont Interfaith Action (VIA)  for many years. This includes running an active Local Organizing Committee for most of the last 10 years, participation in actions, hosting fund-raising dinners and attending annual meetings. As an institution, the First UU Society shares loose plate collections with VIA, provides low-rent offices for the organization, and helps publicize its social-action priorities and events. We plan to revive the First UU Society of Burlington Local Organizing Committee in the near future.

contact person: Nick Nixon

Socially Responsible Santa

In early December, every year we take a special collection for Socially Responsible Santa. Members of the Social Justice Web receive referrals from congregation members and friends and deliver cash gifts to families/individuals in need. We believe that by giving a cash gift we are empowering people to decide for themselves what kinds of Christmas gifts they wish to give and receive.


Our high school "Yuuth Group" considers social justice a core activity. Each December, the youth sponsor a "Giving Tree," which draws donations from the congregation that are distributed to several local organizations serving people and animals in need.

The group raises funds each year to send members on a weeklong service trip such as going to New York City to participate in the Youth Service Opportunities Project.

Other activities have included cooking and serving dinner at Dismas House, a facility for women being released from incarceration; volunteering with Pedals for Progress, which sends bicycles to the developing world; and cooking and serving at the Chittenden Emergency Food Shelf.

Contact person: Martha Dallas