Social Action and Outreach Overview
Emerson offers many opportunities for you to get involved. Participation is open to everyone. New ideas are always welcome.
Our activities fall into three major areas:
Emerson Justice Advocates
We address institutionalized and systemic discrimination through education, advocacy and witness. We often join with other UU organizations, such as UUSC, UUCSJ, TXUUJM, and UUV4J, on initiatives such as Black Lives Matter and Standing on the Side of Love. We participated in several UUV4J demonstrations in support of Prop 1 and visited our state legislators in Austin.
Emerson Justice Advocates – Working Groups
Steering Committee – a leadership structure to direct the public witness and advocacy activities of Emerson Justice Advocates,
Racial Justice: We are addressing the difficult questions surrounding how Unitarian Unioversalists are to respond to the call for anti-racist work and dismantling white privilege. We host Showing Up for Racial Justice – Houston (SURJ-HTX) and sponsor a Racial Justice Study Group that addresses the larger inquiry through books, films, speakers, luncheons, and teach-ins.
Reproductive Justice: We are working to secure for Emerson UU Church the Just Texas designation of Reproductive Justice Congregation. This designation will state to the community at large that we are committed to provide a welcoming space for all who have faced or made reproductive health decisions, will provide educational opportunities for the community surrounding reproductive justice issues, and will partner with local organizations for public witness and advocacy opportunities.
Economic Justice: We are working to provide educational and advocacy opportunities surrounding economic inequality in the community. We hope to become active in the New Poor People’s Campaign recently launched nationwide.
Environmental Justice: As this broad issue was recently adopted by the UUV4J as an action issue, we are working to develop advocacy and public witness opportunites for the Emerson community. One such example is working to build a group affiliated with the Citizens’ Climate Lobby which works primarily with our congressional representatives to adopt the Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.
TXUUJM provides a vehicle for our congregations and the members of our association to make a difference in our state and to help those learning about Unitarian Universalism see the values for which we stand. During the past legislative session, we focused on these key issues: (1) Women’s Reproductive Justice; (2) Medicaid Expansion; and (3) Economic Justice/Income Inequality.
UUV4J is a network of UUs committed to public witness for justice in the Greater Houston area. We have chosen three areas that are often controversial, but that UUs stand behind with pride: (1) full inclusion of LGBTQ people; (2) full health care for women and their families; (3) support of all people to worship as they are called without discrimination or intolerance; and (4) Environmental Justice Concerns
This Foundation supports the Harris County Drug Court, Success Through Addiction Recovery (STAR) Program. STAR is an alternative to incarceration for long term drug addicts who have been arrested for a drug or drug related offense.
Houston Pride Festival and Parade
The Houston-area UU churches form one of the longest supporters of the parade and walk together to support the LGBTQ community.
Ministry for Earth
We promote environmental stewardship on individual, congregational, national and global levels, often in partnership with UU initiatives such as UU Ministry for Earth and Commit2Respond to climate change.
In 2015-2016 we kicked off the Renewable Congregations Campaign, expanded recycling, held sustainable dinners, volunteered at Plant It Forward Farms and Trash Bash, held a vigil in support of the COP21 in Paris on climate change.
Ministry for Earth’s Mission: to educate ourselves and others about environmental issues; advocate public policies to protect the global environment; act locally in our homes, church and city; and connect spiritually with the web-of-all-existence.
These programs address the “here and now” needs of our local community. We coordinate education and outreach opportunities surrounding equity issues (including fair trade, pay equity, living wage, human trafficking, health and housing, food and education disparity) both through Emerson’s unique programs (Groppe Scholarships and UUNO’s ESL program) and other nonprofits (Rebuilding Together Houston, Freedom Place, Planned Parenthood, and ABOVE POLITICS: Health Care for All Texans).
On Saturday afternoons at Emerson, we offer three different levels of English classes and provide childcare free of charge. The classes run for 12 consecutive Saturdays from 1:00 to 3:00 followed by an hour of conversation. We also offer Thursday-night conversation sessions (no childcare available) to work on vocabulary.
Provides funding for college educations at two-year institutions for academically talented high school seniors who are the first in their families to attend college. The program provides full tuition, fees and books. Once granted, the scholarship is guaranteed for the completion of an associate degree in the arts or sciences provided the student maintains an acceptable level of academic achievement as determined by the college.
Rebuilding Together Houston provides volunteers an opportunity to learn a new skill while helping an elderly or disabled Houstonian.
Undies for Everyone
Raising funds to help children around the world while our community comes together for fun!
Interfaith Ministries’ Meals on Wheels for Greater Houston program provides a home-delivered meal to home-bound seniors over 60 and their spouses. The program also delivers breakfast and weekend meals to the most frail and isolated seniors. This nutritional support helps seniors stay independent and in their own homes.
Souper Bowl of Caring
We collect food and money for the Houston Food Bank.
Financial Support for Social Action at Emerson
Share the Plate (weekly collections during Sunday services)
“Everybody can be great…because anybody can serve. You don’t have to have a college degree to serve. You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
~ Martin Luther King Jr.