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Sept. 2016 Denominational Affairs Update

By Bruce Wiggins, Denominational Affairs Coordinator


Unitarian Heroes Defy Nazis: Ken Burns Film on MPTV Sept. 20:

Defying the Nazis: The Sharps’ War, a documentary film directed by Ken Burns and Artemis Joukowsky, will be shown on Public TV on the evening of September 20. It is the story of Unitarian minister Rev. Waitstill Sharp and his wife Martha, who volunteered in 1939 to go to Europe. At great personal sacrifice, they worked secretly in Nazi-occupied Europe to rescue Jews, dissidents and refugee children. Later, they were among the co-founders of what is now the Unitarian Universalist Service Committee (UUSC). You can see a 4 minute preview on the UUSC web site: The MPTV web site lists it as being shown Tuesday, September 20 at 8:00 p.m. and several other times. See here for the schedule:

Social Justice Issues at General Assembly 2016:

A good summary of the business and issues passed at General Assembly (GA) is in UU World: .  Among the social justice issues statements passed by General Assembly (GA) this year:

  • Actions of Immediate Witness

Three Actions of Immediate Witness (AIWs) were approved by delegates with overwhelming support: expressing solidarity with Muslims, advocating gun reform following the Pulse nightclub massacre, and affirming support for transgender people. (Update 7.21.16: The final texts of all resolutions are now online.)

  • New Study Action Issue Adopted

The Corruption of Our Democracy was chosen as the 2016-2020 Congregational Study Action Issue (CSAI.) You can read the statement that was passed here: . It lays out some of the background and what congregations might do. While the organizers originally thought it would deal mostly with issues of Citizens United and matters of corporate or monetary influence in our government, attendees at the assembly that discussed implementation made clear that it can – and should—contend with matters of environmental justice and Black Lives Matter. If you are interested in getting involved in this study-action issue in some way, talk with Bruce Wiggins.

Note: We are in the middle of the 2014-18 CSAI on the topic of Escalating Inequality. There are two going on at any point in time. An Escalating Inequality Group has been formed at First Church that has been active for over a year. Nancy Pajewski is heading up the effort this year. See her for more information.

Results of First Church Poll on CSAIs

Several of you have asked about the results of the poll I conducted in May-June before GA on the four proposed Study Action Issues. The four proposed topics were: Climate Change and Environmental Justice, A National Conversation on Race, Ending Gun Violence in America, and the Corruption of Our Democracy.

A total of 20 persons voted either online or by paper survey form. There was almost an even split among the four issues, with the result that there was no clear preference at FUSM for one of the four issues. Some respondents indicated a desire and willingness to work on one of these issues. See Bruce Wiggins if you want more information.


First Unitarian Society of Milwaukee  is a home for spiritual community, social justice, and intellectual freedom, active in Milwaukee since 1842. Unitarian Universalism is an inclusive denomination; core principles include recognition of the worth and dignity of every person; respect for the interdependent web of existence; and the goal of world peace, liberty and justice.

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