Social Action


Unitarian Universalism: Building Upon a Heritage Of Social Action

Unitarian Universalists are woven throughout the fabric of American history by a common thread of dedication to public service. This includes such men and women as: Thomas Jefferson; John Adams; John Quincy Adams; Susan B. Anthony; Clara Barton; Ralph Waldo Emerson; Henry David Thoreau; Oliver Wendell Holmes; Albert Schweitzer; Roger Baldwin; Adlai Stevenson; and Ted Sorenson.

At the Unitarian Church of Summit, we strive to build on this tradition by not only being a center for peace and tolerance, but also a voice for social justice in our community and our larger world. It is our belief that the path to better, more meaningful lives rests in completely inclusive spirituality, service to others and stewardship. Our calling is to heal our world.

Our Approach to Social Action

Our Social Action Committee (SAC) welcomes broad participation in its work. The SAC has come upon a powerful model for outreach. Key to this approach is:

  • Empowering individual SAC members to assume a leadership role in creating and implementing initiatives of interest to them.
  • Working together to understand what the issues are and where the need resides
  • Identifying tangible social action that can serve the needs of a specific and identifiable group of people
  • Measuring our impact and being held accountable for achieving results; and from that process, learning how we can improve what we have to offer.

The SAC focuses on small multi-year initiatives and continues to add at least one or two each year. These initiatives span the gamut from addressing hunger and homelessness; mass disasters at home and abroad; reaching out to our neighbors in surrounding urban settings that need our assistance; and addressing civil liberties concerns, such as the needs of detained immigrants. All of these are discreet projects with a clear start and end point that have the capacity for achievable and measurable results.

We also support others in the congregation who perform social action witness through book readings, protests, workshops and gatherings.

Our Social Action Initiatives

Our social action initiatives generally fall into one of the following seven categories.  Please click on them to learn more:

The Story of our Social Action Committee

The recently-published, Assembling the Pieces: Supercharging Unitarian Universalist Social Action Committees, authored by the previous Chair of our Social Action Committee, Gary D. Nissenbaum, provides a step-by-step approach to invigorating a Social Action Committee. It also tells the story of our social action efforts at the Unitarian Church in Summit from 2005 forward. The proceeds from the sale of the book are being donated to the Unitarian Church in Summit’s initiative to support the social action efforts of the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee.

Our Social Action Committee conducted a workshop with the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee on this topic at the 2011 Unitarian Universalist Association’s (UUA) New York Metro District Annual meeting. This was followed by an expanded workshop attended by nearly 200 Unitarian Universalist ministers and lay leaders from around the country at the UUA’s 2011 Annual General Assembly.