The MSJ Committee has had an active summer and early fall, with a particular focus on efforts to respond to racial justice challenges and Covid-19-related crises, while maintaining ongoing efforts on other social justice causes. Our immediate response was to create a list of “Ways to Help” that listed organizations in need in the bulletin and on the FCC website.
Looking forward, an important part of our work has involved political mobilization and training. After advocacy for decarceration amidst Covid-19 earlier this spring, the Greater Boston Interfaith Organization (GBIO) lately has been urging FCC members to call and write their representatives in the House regarding police reform, specifically advocating for implementing Peace Officer standards and training with certification; civil service access reform; a Commission on structural racism; clear statutory limits on police use of force; and qualified immunity reform. The MA Senate passed a good bill, but certification and qualified immunity, in particular, have met significant headwinds in the House. GBIO is also organizing a new caucus of Cambridge leaders, and considering various local Cambridge actions that it may pursue.
MSJ has also helped to publicize a training initiative; at present, several members of FCC are participating in the “Getting Prepared: Nonviolent Action Principles and Practice” four-week training intended to prepare to lead nonviolent action in the face of possible turmoil and threats to our democratic institutions this fall.
The MSJ Committee has also funded and assisted with various efforts to help meet basic needs in our community. Through Clergy and Laity for Affordable Housing (in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Returning Citizens), we have allotted funds to support hiring young people returning from incarceration to help with building projects. CLAH currently has three largeprojects in process, repairs to vacant buildings which may make good adult day care (elderly respite) facilities. Other initiatives involve increasing the capacity of Solutions at Work to provide needed meals during the evening to people in Central Square, promoting the UCC’s Neighbors in Need campaign, and funding CISC (the Cambridge Interfaith Sanctuary Coalition).
In the area of environmental stewardship, the Missions and Social Justice Committee has supported Massachusetts Interfaith Power and Light, and 350 Massachusetts, both of which engage in activism for climate justice.
Lastly, the Committee continues to support the Latin American Ministry of Mónica Maher, who reports that, “The small church community we established here, United Church of Ecuador, is now online every Sunday for an interactive, ecumenical service with people connecting from over 10 countries! It has been so moving to hear the stories from Honduras, Guatemala, Spain, Italy, Mexico, and Ecuador. We are making a website and forming a board with a young group of Ecuadoreans who are very excited to have a progressive church.” Mónica was officially installed as the pastor of this church at the end of May.
-Deb Cunningham, Co-Chair of the Missions & Social Justice Committee