5th Annual Meeting Summary Oregon Unitarian Universalist Voices for Justice -- November 8, 2014 -- Corvallis
On November 8, 35 people from 8 congregations met at the Corvallis UU Church for the annual meeting of the group Oregon UU Voices for Justice (OrUUVfJ). This group is one of fifteen state-based justice-oriented UU organizations, including sister groups in Washington State and California. The meeting was the fifth annual meeting of the Oregon group, and was organized by its board (Pat Tangeman, president, Barbara Smith-Thomas, treasurer, and Barbara Dow, secretary)*. Amy Beltaine, a recently-graduated UU minister, conducted the meeting. All congregations and fellowships in the state were - and are - invited to participate in this effort.
The eight congregations and the number of UU's at this meeting from each were Rogue Valley 2, Corvallis 8, Eugene 8, Salem 6, Hillsboro-Washington County 2, Wy'east (East Portland) 3, Eastrose (Gresham) 1 and First Unitarian Portland 4.
The group was greeted by the Corvallis UU minister, Rev. Jill McAllister, who welcomed us, lit the Chalice and said a few words.
A brief history of Oregon UUV was given. Its first statewide meeting was held in Salem in 2010, It was the fourteenth of now fifteen statewide UU organizations centered on social justice. The statewide organizations are sometimes called Legislative Ministries or Statewide Advocacy Networks (SANS). Some are incorporated as 501-C3 organizations, emphasizing education and some advocacy, and providing tax-exempt status to donors. Some are 501-C4s, providing more latitude to lobby the legislature straightforwardly. In some states, there are sister organizations, C3 and C4. Barbara Smith-Thomas gave a current state of the organization report, including the fact that we had recently incorporated as a C3 non profit in Oregon, along with a Treasurer's report. We also had a short celebration of our successes last year on our 2013 action issues including Freedom to Marry in Oregon and divestiture from fossil fuels by the UUA. In previous meetings, we have often had a state legislator as a keynote speaker, or one or more speakers from Oregon groups that work with Oregon legislators, such as Chuck Sheketoff, founder and director of Oregon Center for Public Policy, and Alison McIntosh representing Human Services Coalition of Oregon (HSCO). In this year's meeting, the keynote address speaker was Lindi Ramsden, formerly the head of the California SAN. Lindi is currently Acting Dean of Students and Community Life at Starr King school. Her talk, presented by video, was the Berry Street Essay, delivered first at the 2014 UU Ministerial Meeting.
After lunch, about ten proposals for action on social justice issues were presented by individuals from several different congregations. The UU's attending (using a dot sticker voting process) selected (1) Health Care for All and (2) Move to Amend/Taking Big Money out of Politics as our two leading topics for focus this year. We then divided into two groups, each attendee selecting one of these two. Each group worked on possible steps and alliances, and on selecting leadership for each issue this year, at least on an interim basis. Sue Craig (541 607-0204) of Eugene has agreed to serve as an interim contact for Move to Amend/Taking Big Money Out of Politics with Rachel Ozritech of Corvallis. The Health Care issue meeting was focused mostly on the organization 'Health Care for All', which meets regularly in Corvallis and Eugene. Barbara Dow (503 269-2865) has agreed to be the interim contact for that issue, with Louise Ferrell in Corvallis and Ruth Duemler in Eugene.*
The meeting was adjourned at 4:00, after the issue selection and issue conclaves described above.
*The Board is considering formation of an interim group to work on climate change as well. If you have a comment on this possibility, please contact one of them.