Find out about our social justice work at First Universalist and what you can do to get involved.
From the Editor
In This Issue...

There's a lot of social justice work happening at First Universalist!

I hope you'll take some time this week to catch up on all things Social Justice by reading this newsletter, as it is PACKED with information. Here's what you'll find in this month's issue.

In Service,

Elizabeth Hopkins, 
Social Justice Council Chair

The MLK Marade on January 16, 2017.
Spotlight on Justice: Homelessness
History Colorado

Our mission is to educate the congregation about homelessness issues, serve the homeless community and establish partnerships with community agencies and organizations to advocate for the homeless. We hope to highlight issue of homelessness to our congregation throughout this year out of our building as we experience a form of homelessness.

Recent Highlights:

" Searching for a Home: Homelessness in Colorado History," 
Dec. 3, 2016
TF member Betsy Hay, PhD. organized a First Universalist Social Justice Council sponsored tour of this exhibit at the Colorado History Museum. After the tour, the 22 attendees participated in a moderated discussion of issues facing homeless individuals and families and political/societal obstacles and opportunities. 

"Blessing Bags- FFRE/Homelessness Task Force Collaboration," 
Jan. 2017 
TF member Robin Dodds worked with FFRE leaders to organize the donation efforts and K-5th grade children 's assembly of the bags. The bags are being distributed to the homeless now and contain winter-themed items. The program will run again in May with summer items.

"Join the Conversation: Homelessness in Denver, What is it? What can be done?"  First Universalist Community Forum, Jan. 15th, 2017
TF member Nancy Bolt organized this event. The special guests were Randall Loeb, a Denver area Homeless Advocate and Chris Connor, a Denver City government official. Loeb and Connor co-lead a discussion of the political, social, economic and justice issues of Homelessness in the Denver metro region. Over 40 people attended.

Service Event: "Point in Time Survey," Jan. 30 (Training Required)
We're recruiting a service group of First Universalists to participate in the 2017 Point in Time Survey on January 30. This effort is critical to gathering data that is submitted to HUD for federal funding for Homelessness housing and supportive services in the 7 county area of the Denver/Boulder region. The event is sponsored by The Metropolitan Denver  Homeless Initiative. 

Donation Collections: Monthly on Second Sundays - Feb. 12, 2017
On the second Sunday of each month, we will continue to collect items for partner organizations who provide services to individuals and families who are experiencing homelessness. Recipient organizations rotate quarterly, and we are currently collecting for the House of Hope program. See the current list of needed & accepted items on our task force website and in emails coming from the church ahead of February 12, when we will next have the collection bin at Hamilton near the entryway.

Submitted by Carol Thomson, TF member.  For more information about the Homeless Task Force and how to get involved, please visit our website.
Social Justice Happenings and Updates
Habitat Interfaith Alliance

First of all, Habitat Interfaith Alliance sends its sincere and huge THANK YOU to First Universalist Church! The Compassion In Action donations during the Christmas Eve and New Year's Day services totaled nearly $4000. The generosity, kindness and talent of this church continues to amaze us. Habitat Interfaith Alliance owes so much of its success to the members of First Universalist. We are immensely grateful-thank you!  

Our Habitat Task Force and Habitat interfaith Alliance begin the cycle again, working to raise $85,000 for our  16th  Habitat for Humanity home. This home will most likely be built in a new Habitat development called Sheridan Square near Lowell and Hampden -much closer to us!  Sheridan Square will feature 63 new, energy efficient homes built over the the next 4 years. It will provide stable, affordable housing for about 130 adults and 225 children.  In the next month or so, we will be matched with our newest family and get to know more details about them. Actual construction of house #16 will take place in the early spring. Stay tuned! 

Submitted by Crystal Reser
*First Universalist Church is a member of the Habitat Interfaith Alliance (HIA) along with 12 other congregations in the south Denver area. Each year HIA sponsors a Habitat for Humanity home and must raise $85,000 to build the home. If you have questions about our church's involvement with Habitat, please contact Crystal Reser at or 303-722- 2041.

Saturday, Jan. 28, 6:30 p.m. Christ the King Catholic Church

Tickets at the door are $15/person or $35/family, and all are encouraged to attend. We are still looking for volunteers who would like to 
enter their soup/stew,  provide a dessert serving 10 to 12 people, or  volunteer for 1 or 2 hours during the event.  If you're interested, please contact Crystal Reser at

SOUP Cook-off DINNER:  about 300 guests enjoying soups( often about 70 varieties!), breads, desserts and entertainment! Clergy from HIA's 13 member congregations serve as "judges" for the event. Our Rev. Jeannie Shero will be a judge! Come enjoy great music, food, and community. This gathering is a great way to meet and socialize with members of other faith traditions in our community-all working toward a common goal. 

 To learn more about IFCS, please go to their website  or contact Jean James at 303-688-9474  for more information.  

Submitted by Jean James,
Social Justice Council Member 

We have participated in so many moving remembrances for the victims of gun violence recently that it seems that, in some way, attention followed by activism simply must occur. The beautiful and moving Concert Across America, noted in the last newsletter, was followed on Sunday, December 18, during the fourth anniversary weekend of the massacre of students and faculty at Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Attendees at the service that day were invited to sign a card and to light a small electric candle in remembrance. More than 125 people signed and the card was sent to the school to assure the Sandy Hook community of our remembrance, love and support.

We are already in the midst of the new legislative session. The new minority leader of the Senate is a Rocky Mountain Gun Owners loyalist so we are expecting a great push toward:
1. allowing anyone with a concealed carry permit to carry a hidden handgun into public schools.
2. repealing the 2013 background check law
3. repealing the 2013 law banning high capacity magazines
4. allowing concealed carry without a permit
5. allowing a stand-your-ground law for business
6. allowing military under age 21 to carry concealed weapons.
Information on the bills and their current status can be found at In addition, First Universalist has a Rapid Response Network (RRN) which will alert you when action is needed. It involves contacting members of the legislative committees as the gun bills come up for hearings. To be added to the RRN list, please send an email to Jessica Montgomerie at You will receive suggestions on what to say or write to representatives.

Submitted by Joan Chase, Social Justice Council Member. Email Joan at  for more information about the GVP task force and how to get involved. Visit the GVPTF's web page.

Immigrant Justice Task Force Update
What it means to "Document and Accompany"

I am our church's representative to the Metro Denver Sanctuary Coalition (MDSC). The Coalition is primary know for providing Sanctuary for immigrants who are facing deportation, and our church contributes generously in kind and financially to the support of Sanctuary. Another aspect of MDSC is  Documenting and Accompanying. "Documenting" is simply recording the immigrant's story and placing it in CIRC's (Colorado Immigrant Reform Coalition) data base for understanding and monitoring potential unlawful tactics used by ICE. After the documenting comes "accompanying," or walking in partnership with the immigrant while helping them become aware of resources (such as legal services) that will keep protect them from being separated from their families and friends.

Accompanying Isidro
Recently, I was asked to accompany Isidro Quintana. Isidro (46) has been in this country for over 40 years lives in Aurora with his wife and three older children. Last October he was returning with his family from a vacation/church mission trip Costa Rica when he was detained in Fort Lauderdale when Customs noted that he had criminal conviction over 20 years ago on his record. They released him to return to Denver and asked that he meet with Customs (@DIA) in early January. 


Don't miss the Vigil on
Monday, February 6th, 6:00-7:00 p.m. at the ICE Detention Center at 30th & Peoria in Aurora, CO. Poets and musicians will share their love, you won't want to miss it.

Submitted by Dan Moen

If you have an interest in working with Immigration Justice please contact Dan Moen, or Judy Cardenas,

Pris Ledbury, Shoeb, and Rhoda Whitney celebrate Shoeb's release from I.C.E. detention and new Asylum status.
Ethical Eating Task Force: 
Clearing the air on cured meats ( see full essay)

Ethical eating focuses on responsible food consumption that includes acknowledging how our food choices impact the environment, workers' rights, animal welfare, and human health.

A recently published study that followed 971 patients over a seven-year period concluded that eating cured meats, such as bacon, sausage, corned beef, etc., had a direct effect on worsening Asthma symptoms in men who already had the disease. Earlier studies found that consumption of cured meats also worsened the symptoms of those suffering from COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease)...

Read more --  find the full essay about cured meats on the Ethical Eating website,

For more information visit the Ethical Eating website, .

Submitted by Roland Halpern,
Social Justice Council Member

Racial Justice Task Force Presents:  Racial Justice Film Series

The first film of the series, The Doctrine of Discovery, was shown on January 15th at First Plymouth Church. Racial Justice Task Force member, Mary Raynard introduced the film and facilitated the discussion following the film. Forty people attended, mostly from First Plymouth.

In the future, films in the series will be shown on the second Monday of the month at 7:00 p.m. at First Plymouth Church.  Our next film in the series will be:

Policing the Police w/ Jelani Cobb, Monday, Feb. 13, 2017, 7 p.m. at First Plymouth. 
In this documentary, writer Jelani Cobb "rides along" with the highly criticized Newark Police officers for one month and documents their interactions with citizens. This film and Mr. Cobb's observations offer insight into possible solutions to the problem of over-aggressive policing. 

On March 13, please join us for Ava DuVernay's documentary about the criminalization of African Americans since the end of the civil war is even-handed and compelling. DuVernay was the director of the movie, Selma.

S ubmitted by Mimzy Tackney-Moen
Social Justice Council Member

Contact Mimzy to find out more about getting involved with the Racial Justice Task Force and its events.

From the Green First Task Force:

Dear Members and Friends,

We used to send postcards, but in these turbulent times, please make your voices heard by phone calls or email to elected officials on important government issues such as the Environment, ACA & Health Care, Immigration, Racial Justice, Women's Rights. Here is a partial contact sheet for our national representatives:
Call the White House: 202-456-1111 or White House Switchboard: 202-456-1414
You can find email forms for all of our representatives by searching online, for example "email Michael Bennet..." Make your voice heard to keep our democracy strong!
A celebratory moment for Green First and other supporters of our new building's net carbon neutral energy system. What an amazing legacy!
Social Justice Matters: Spotlight on the Sunday Forum
By Gary Anderson

Community Forum presentations are mostly live and frequently involve speakers of national and  international status. Topics are centered on policies and practices that have powerful impacts  upon justice/ injustice balances, especially for marginalized pop ulations and nations. Visit their website for details on upcoming topics.  A few recent examples of forum topics:

Kathy Kelly, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee (in person).  Ms. Kelly is an American peace activist, pacifist, and author, one of the founding members  of Voices in the Wilderness, and currently a co-coordinator of Voices for Creative Nonviolence.

The Renewable Energy Revolution - By Prof. Jonathan Ormes, Ph.D. (in person).  The long struggle to convert from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources like wind and solar is  arguably at a tipping point globally. This talk will briefly review the warming climate problem  and discuss the situation with the international climate treaties that attempt to control the total  temperature increase.

Water is Life: Standing Rock and Beyond - with Joseph Medicine Robe (in person).  What has been taking place at Standing Rock, North Dakota, over the past 10  months is an inspiration and a wake-up call that has brought millions of  people across the United States and the world to stand in solidarity with  Standing Rock. Joseph Medicine Robe shared the greater context for the actions at Standing Rock and shared a traditional Lakota prayer song on the Native flute to set a prayerful tone for the gathering.
Social Justice Book Club

Come one, come all to First Universalist's Social Justice Book Club! Every month we read a different selection of either fiction or non-fiction dedicated in some way to the pursuit of social justice. A few of the authors we have read are Ta-Nehisi Coates, Louise Erdrich and Zadie Smith. During the building project, we're meeting at First Unitarian Society. We meet at 7:00 p.m.  on the fourth Monday of each month. We hope to see you there!

Social justice takes many shapes and forms, and we'll continue to read books that explore the innumerable facets of justice, equity and compassion in human relations. We'd love to have you.

All the Light We Cannot See
Monday, February 27, 7:00 p.m., First Unitarian Society, 1400 Lafayette St., Denver

Join us on Feb. 27 to  discuss the 2015 Pulitzer Prize winning novel   All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr. The novel is set in World War II, but it offers a timely meditation on resistance to and complicity with fascism, as well as a unique exploration of disability.  The book club meets monthly and discusses a different fiction or non-fiction title at each meeting, always connected to social justice matters. Newcomers are welcome. Please note that parking for our meetings is available on Lafayette Street between 14th and Colfax in the spaces marked FUSD. 

Submitted by Phil Tatro, Social Justice Book Club Organizer. Contact Phil with questions at or 860-205-4243.
Compassion in Action Summary
Thank you for your generous donations to these worthy organizations!

Compassion in Action makes our church unique; giving 100% of our offering each week to a worthy recipient organization connected to our seven principles makes a strong statement about our priorities to all who enter this space. This is a fundamental aspect of the social justice work we do at First Universalist. It is a weekly statement of how highly we value this type of work, and how we announce to the world who we are as a faith community. It is our public witness of solidarity with allies in our community and beyond.

Through Compassion in Action, we all learn about a vast array of justice work that we may not otherwise have heard of, and we have immediate access to that information through our church. Compassion in Action is a way to help in the moment, and for many, becomes a way to volunteer. If you'd like to learn more ab out any of the Compassion in Action recipients, simply c lick on the name of the organization to visit its websi te. 

10/30/2016 Integrated Family Community Services $1,101.00
11/6/2016 Alternative to Violence Project $1,418.00
11/13/2016 Four Winds $1,675.00
11/20/2016 Beloved Community $1,517.00
11/27/2016 Colorado Coalition for the Homeless $1,503.00
12/4/2016 $1,587.00
12/11/2016 $1,617.00
12/18/2016 Beloved Community $1,808.00
12/24/2016 $3,601.00
1/1/2017 Habitat $644.00
1/8/2017 Earthlinks Colorado $1200
1/15/2017 Colorado Criminal Justice Reform Coalition $1396

Potlucks! Task Force Presentations! Opportunities to get involved!  Welcome to the remodeled version of Social Justice Sundays at Hamilton Middle School. Learn more.

Upcoming Social Justice Sundays
Sunday, February 12, 2017
Sunday, March 12, 2017

Bring your mug and place setting!
In an effort to reduce the amount of waste we produce, we're asking you to bring reusable mugs for your coffee or tea on Sundays, and plates, silverware, and bowls on Potluck Sundays. Thank you for your efforts in making First Universalist a Green Sanctuary.

Thanks to everyone who contributed to this month's Social Justice Matters.  Special thanks to Jessica Montgomerie for support with proofreading and formatting. The next issue is scheduled for March 2017, so make sure to take pictures at all your social justice events between now and then.  If you have ideas or suggestions for the newsletter, please submit them to  We welcome ideas, article submissions, photos and all other social justice-related news and happenings. We especially encourage our youth members to contribute to this newsletter to make sure their voices are represented. Thank you.