Putting Our Principles into Action

Cori Vipperman and Pat Murray, Co-chairs, Social Justice Committee

The Sunnyhill Social Justice Committee is split into four teams that reflect where the congregation would like to focus its energy. The congregation participated in a congregation-wide “Listening Campaign” that was put together with help from PIIN (Pennsylvania Interfaith Impact Network). Members of the Social Justice Committee met with members one-on-one or in small groups to talk about social justice concerns.

Environmental Justice Team: Ann Price/ Lead

Working for the development, implementation, and enforcement of environmental laws, regulations, and policies that respect our “interdependent web of life”. We focus on issues that affect the quality of life of all people regardless of race, color, national origin.

Good Government/Economic Justice Team: Richard Goff/ Lead: (Mission statement taken from UUPLAN)

The Good Government Team is based on upholding the UU Principle #5 “…the use of the democratic process within our congregations and in the society at large.” We will work to increase awareness and take action related to Pennsylvania and Federal legislation that relates to having open and honest government that represents everyone. We will have a special focus on 1) redistricting reform, 2) increasing voter participation, and 3) minimizing money’s role in government.

Racial Justice Team: Megan Smarr/Lead

Dedicated to understanding the negative impact of structural racism and white privilege on people of color and their communities. We work to dismantle the institutional barriers that keep our society from providing equal opportunities, justice and safety for all. We align ourselves with other community organizations working to end racism.

Interweave: Ron Smutny/Lead

Interweave is the UU name for a group that works to promote understanding, support and compassion for those who are LGBTQIA+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, questioning or queer, intersex and asexual) and their allies.  Sunnyhill had such a group some years ago, but some participants left the church and interest waned. With the excitement over our newly renewed Welcoming Congregation status from the UUA and our incredible new worship facility, there was no better time to re-establish this important group. A small gathering of us have had a few meetings and exchanged lots of e-mails over the past year. The group is now growing, and more LGBTQIA+ folks are already discovering Sunnyhill.

We strive to reach out to prospective members and friends of Sunnyhill by helping them experience what a warm, wonderful, and accepting place Sunnyhill can be for all persons, including the LGBTQIA+ community. We do this by word of mouth; promotional notices in newsletters, flyers and other publications; contacts at LGBTQIA+ organizations; and attendance at community events. About half of the Interweave members are LGBTQIA+, and the remaining half are supportive allies. We come from a wide variety of religious and personal backgrounds.

We have made connections with Persad Center, Equality PA, PFLAG, Proud Haven, and other groups, and we are making ourselves known to the other churches in the UUPittsburgh Cluster. Interweave is proud to serve as a meaningful component of the wonderful Sunnyhill community.