Faith Matters: A faith of hope, with our sleeves rolled up: Activism and social justice at the core of All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Greenfield
|Published: 11-03-2023 9:50 AM
Unitarian Universalism is a faith of love and hope. We might have different beliefs, we may have arrived from different faiths, but we share strong core values. Respect for the interdependent web of life and the inherent worth and dignity of every person are principles of our faith. At All Souls Unitarian Universalist (UU) Church Greenfield, our activism and social justice work are well respected in our community and beyond. We are known for our faith based response to current events. We focus on how we live our lives with one another.
Every month we have a social justice speaker in the pulpit and tomorrow, Nov. 5, Amrita Rutter will offer a sermon at All Souls on “Eco Grief and Hope.” Rutter is a 17-year-old student from Amherst who has been a member of the Sunrise Movement, a national youth-initiated climate change organization, since she was 15. Amrita will speak to our community about her early activism to get solar panels on her high school parking lot. She will share her experiences, the challenges of effecting change and the frustration and grief of failure offset by support and hope. After the service we will gather to discuss the Massachusetts legislature’s groundbreaking policy on climate that was just released and that provides a working plan to get to Net Zero in the state.
Molly Chambers and the Social Justice Committee have organized the annual Anti-racism Film Festival for 20 years. We screen current films that address some aspect of racism, followed by a facilitated discussion. This free, accessible event usually attracts over 50 people and will be held on Sunday, May 5, next year.
Pam Kelly has been coordinating large and small social action events, such as Jubilee, voter registration and Earth Day in our UU and regional community for more than 20 years. Currently she is closely following the statewide rapid implementation plan for climate adaptation with great enthusiasm and expectations. She is also dedicated to studying forestry and sequestration of carbon. Last spring, a group at All Souls, led by Pam, decided to plant trees, specifically the endangered American Chestnut, in school yards for teachers and students. This is a small step towards healing our planet and giving back to our teachers.
Another All Souls activist, Bill Ashley, has supported the placement of solar panels on newly built Habitat for Humanity homes in Franklin and Hampshire Counties. Another ambitious project he started last year was to write to certain municipalities in our county, offering to sponsor solar panels. So far Warwick, Greenfield, Wendell and Buckland have accepted his offer. Bill hopes that other donors will follow suit to lessen the use of fossil fuels by sponsoring solar arrays for low-income towns. He drives an all-electric Chevy Bolt and is working with the Social Justice Committee to set up a local electric vehicle event.
The Greenfield community probably knows All Souls as the home of Stone Soup Cafe. We are proud of this pay-what-you-can Saturday meal offering and free store that has grown into a separate non-profit organization, still housed in our building. Kirsten Johl Levitt is the executive director of Stone Soup, a leader at All Souls and honored as Greenfield’s most recent Citizen of the Year.
As we UUs work towards anti-racism, climate justice and addressing food insecurity, our belief in the inherent worth and dignity of all beings inspires us. We are a faith of hope, with our sleeves rolled up.
Kate Mason has been a Unitarian Universalist since 1980 when she was welcomed into the First Unitarian Society in Ithaca, New York. She was a lay minister and committee leader at the First UU Society of Newton, where she grew strong roots for 35 years. Kate moved to Greenfield and joined All Souls UU Church in 2017. She is currently the chair of the Worship and Membership Committees, and past chair of the Board of Trustees. Kate is also on the leadership team of the Interfaith Council of Franklin County.
All Souls Unitarian Universalist Church Greenfield meets every Sunday at 10:30 a.m. at the corner of Hope and Main Streets. We are a lay-led congregation with no settled minister, so our Sunday services are varied and eclectic, from theistic to social commentary. Visitors are always welcomed to our accessible sanctuary.