Last Saturday 13 Unitarians from seven MUA congregations gathered at Unitarian New Meeting in Birmingham to attend a workshop on Social Action, led by Rob Gregson and Ann Howell of Simple Gifts. It was a truly inspirational day.
After giving us a brief overview of the history of social action in the Unitarian context, we were asked to share what our own congregations were up to, and it was interesting to see the variety of things we are involved in, here in the Midlands. Rob Gregson emphasised that this wasn’t just about fundraising, laudable though this is, this was about action, and about transforming our souls as well as helping other people.
It was suggested that the process of deciding what social action to get involved in should not be just another committee meeting. In the afternoon, Ann Howell posted several sheets up on the wall, each with a different area of concern, such as economic justice / compassion for all living beings / women’s rights and so on. Then she asked each of us to sign the three that were of most importance to us, and then to winnow this down further, and stand in front of the one that stood out in our minds. The result was fascinating – every sheet had at least one signature, and when we had to line up at the end, every sheet had at least one person in front of it. But it was a wonderful method of getting people involved in the decision-making process. It gives everyone the opportunity of sharing what they are passionate about.
The last section of the day was devoted to thinking about the way forward – so that each congregation could decide how they could get involved. Another useful exercise was to ask particpants to list positives and negatives about getting involved in social action projects, and this was again very insightful. At the end of the day, we were asked to think about what our dream for our own congregations would be. All in all, it was a most thought-provoking, enjoyable day. Thanks to Ann Howell for the photos below.